Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Chicken Curry with Potatoes, Carrots and Chickpeas

I love a good one-pot meal and lately I've been really into curries. I think it's because we discovered coconut milk was safe for Baby Girl. Or maybe it's because we can't get enough of the buttered naan I serve alongside. Whatever the reason, I've been wanting to make my friend Chelsea's chicken curry recipe for a while now and I finally put it on the menu this week.

Chicken curry with potatoes, carrots and chickpeas

This is one of those meals that is so versatile you could add whatever veggies you like, or whatever is lurking in your crisper drawer. Don't like carrots? Leave them out. Have some cauliflower approaching it's birthday? Add it in. Vegetarian? Leave out the chicken or sub in some tofu and switch to vegetable broth. The sauce is what makes this so good, so use your imagination.

Chicken curry with potatoes, carrots and chickpeas

The sauce is the best part of any curry, in my humble opinion, so I opted not to thicken this. If you prefer a thicker curry, add some cornstarch during the final simmer.

Chicken Curry with Potatoes, Carrots and Chickpeas
Recipe from my friend Chelsea

2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 chicken breasts or 4 chicken thighs, cut into bite-size pieces
salt and pepper
1 medium onion, minced
3 garlic cloves, minced or grated
2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
3 teaspoons yellow curry powder
2 cups chicken broth, divided
4-5 small gold potatoes, cut into bite-size pieces
3 carrots, cut into bite-size pieces
1 can chick peas, drained and rinsed
Juice of one lime
1 teaspoon fish sauce
1 can coconut milk
Optional: sriracha or hot sauce, to taste
Minced cilantro, for serving

Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Season the chicken with salt and pepper, then add to the hot skillet. Cook until browned but not cooked through, about 5 minutes. Remove the chicken to a plate and set aside. Add the onion, garlic and ginger to the skillet. Season with a little salt and pepper, then cook until the onions are softened.

Add the other tablespoon of olive oil and the curry powder. Let the curry powder toast for about one minute, then add the potatoes, carrots, and chick peas. Add 1/2 cup of chicken broth, then stir to scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan.

Cover and cook until the potatoes and carrots are soft, about 10 minutes. Add the rest of the chicken broth and scrape the bottom of the pan again. Bring to a boil and simmer for another 5 minutes.

Add the chicken and any accumulated juices, coconut milk, fish sauce, lime juice, and sriracha (if using) to the pan. Simmer until the sauce has thickened slightly (it will continue to thicken as it sits).

Serve over basmati or jasmine rice topped with chopped fresh cilantro.
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Friday, November 13, 2015

Braised Pork Ribs with Rigatoni

Another meal prepared by SP for Sunday dinner with my parents. He loves cooking this time of year because he's really into long-simmering, hearty, comfort food. We're big fans of Lidia Bastianich, so he turned to one of her cookbooks when deciding what to make. He chose Braised Pork Ribs with Rigatoni because we had a rack of ribs in the freezer that needed to be used up, but when he read through the recipe he realized we'd need more ribs. D'oh. Oh well, we'll just have to make these again.

Pork rib ragu

He made this while Baby Girl and I were away for the weekend, so we didn't get to smell the delicious aroma throughout the house as it cooked. But the end result...man, oh man. The meat was so tender you could just lightly pull on the bone and it would slide right out. Delicious. Comforting. Hearty. Everything you want in a Fall/Winter meal.

SP had to make two adjustments to the recipe - we can't easily find San Marzano tomatoes so he just used two cans of crushed tomatoes. He also couldn't find pickled cherry peppers, so he used banana pepper rings. Both worked just fine.

Braised Pork Ribs with Rigatoni
As seen in Lidia’s Italian-American Kitchen

One whole rack (about 4 pounds) pork spare ribs
salt and freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 large yellow onions, sliced (about 3 cups)
8 garlic cloves, peeled
6 pickled cherry peppers, stemmed, seeded and quartered (can also use mild banana pepper rings)
Two 35-ounce cans plum tomatoes (San Marzano) with their liquid, seeded and crushed (or 2 28-ounce cans crushed tomatoes)
2 bay leaves
6 sprigs fresh thyme
2 to 3 cups hot water, or as needed
1 pound rigatoni
1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
2/3 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus more for serving

Cut the rack of spare ribs between the bones into single ribs (or ask your butcher to do this for you.) Season the rib pieces with salt and pepper. Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy braising pan over medium heat. Add as many of the ribs as will fit without touching. Cook, turning occasionally, until browned on all sides, about 10 minutes. Remove the ribs, drain on a baking sheet lined with paper towel. Repeat with the remaining ribs. Adjust the temperature throughout the browning, so the fat in the pan is sizzling, but the pieces of pork that stick to the pan don’t burn.

Pour off all but about 4 tablespoons of fat from the casserole. Add the onions, garlic and cherry peppers and cook, stirring, until the onions are wilted and caramelized, about 4 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, bay leaves and thyme. Bring to a boil, scraping the pan to loosen the brown bits stuck to the bottom. Tuck the spare ribs into the tomato sauce, season lightly with salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Adjust the heat to simmering and cook, turning the spare ribs in the sauce occasionally, until the ribs are fork-tender, about 2 hours. Ladle some of the hot water into the casserole from time to time as necessary to keep the ribs covered with liquid.

To serve: When the ribs are almost tender, cook pasta according to package directions.

Drain the pasta, return it to the pot and spoon in enough of the spare rib sauce to generously coat the pasta. Toss in the parsley and bring the sauce and pasta to a boil, tossing to coat the pasta with sauce. Check the seasoning, adding salt and pepper if necessary. Remove the pot from the heat and stir in 2/3 cup grated cheese. Transfer the pasta to a warm platter or individual plates and top with the spare ribs. Spoon a little of the remaining sauce over the pasta and serve immediately, passing additional sauce and grated cheese separately.
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Monday, November 02, 2015

Chicken Stew with White Beans and Spinach

I started this post more than a year ago. I feel terrible for not sharing the recipe sooner, especially for such a superficial reason. See, I didn't like the picture I took. Silly, right? I hope you can forgive me.

Chicken stew with white beans

Winter is coming. And no, I don't mean that as a Game of Thrones reference. It may not be too bad now, but the cold and the dark are coming soon, along with snow and ice. This is my least favorite time of year. But this Chicken Stew with White Beans and Spinach is comfort in a bowl. I will probably make this once a month until April because it's just that good.


^^^ That's the picture I took a year ago and didn't like.

SP made this last night for Sunday dinner and doubled the recipe. We served it over rice with crusty buttered bread for dipping. The rice was the perfect accompaniment - I highly recommend serving it that way. The rice soaks up the sauce beautifully and, come on, rice and beans are a match made in heaven. Doubling the recipe worked well for 4 adults and 1 child. We all seriously loved it and, bonus, there were plenty of leftovers for lunch. I imagine this would freeze well if you wanted to portion out meals for later.

This is truly outstanding and I can't thank Elly enough.

Chicken Stew with White Beans and Spinach
As seen on Elly Says Opa!

3 slices bacon, chopped
4 chicken thighs (bone-in, if you can find it, but boneless/skinless are fine)
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 cup chicken broth
a couple dashes of crushed red pepper
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon oregano
1 can cannellini or other white beans, drained and rinsed
4 cups fresh spinach
salt and pepper
Cooked rice and crusty bread, for serving

Cook the bacon in a Dutch oven until crispy. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. Leave the fat in the pot.

Sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper. Over medium-high heat, sear the chicken on both sides. Remove from the pot.

Add the onions to the pot and cook until tender, about 10 minutes. Stir in the garlic and once the garlic becomes fragrant, stir in the tomato paste. Cook for 1 minute.

Add the wine to deglaze, scraping up any brown bits from the bottom and sides of the pot. Cook for about 2 minutes, then add the chicken broth, bay leaf, oregano, salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil. Add the chicken back to the pot. Cover, reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, mash about 1/3 of the can of beans with a fork or the back of a wooden spoon. You don't want a paste, but breaking up some of the beans will improve the texture of the final dish. After the chicken has simmered for 15 minutes, add the whole beans and the mashed beans into the pot. Cover and simmer for an additional 15 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.

Add the bacon and the spinach to the pot. Cook just until spinach is wilted, about 2 minutes. Serve over rice with some crusty bread to sop up the sauce.
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