Tuesday, July 7, 2015

South of the Border Chicken and Dumplings

Chicken and Dumplings are a classic and wonderful comfort food, filling and hearty, especially during a chilly night.  I enjoy making this dish for my family every now and then, but this time I wanted to add a different sort of flair to the old fashioned, deviating from my normal recipe, to create an equally palate pleasing one-dish and fantastic meal.
 I made the dumplings using a mixture of corn muffin mix and flour, and added Latin American commodities  like cumin, chili powder and diced tomatoes to bring the dish together. This dish was very well received by the family and I have since created yet another Latin inspired version, with a smoother, more cream soup like texture.  Stay tuned for the recipe in the near future.  I used bone-in skinless thighs for this version, but feel free to use the protein or chicken parts of your choice.
2 lbs. bone-in, skinless thighs
1 medium onion, small diced, about 3/4 cup
2 cloves garlic, pressed or finely minced
1 bay leaf
4 c. chicken stock or enough to cover chicken while cooking
3 stalks celery, one halved, 2 sliced on bias
3 carrots, sliced
1 12 oz. can diced tomatoes, drained
1 box corn muffin mix
1/2 c. AP flour
1 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. sugar or to taste
2 tbsp.  butter
1/3 c. milk, or enough to moisten dumpling batter
1/2 c. fresh parsley, rough chopped
SPST (Salt and Pepper to Suit Taste)
olive oil for drizzling
Drizzle medium pot with olive oil over medium heat.
 Add onions, halved celery and bay leaf.
Cook for several minutes until onions are translucent and fragrant and add chicken and garlic.
Turn heat to medium high and add stock enough to cover chicken.
Bring up to a boil and skim top of boiling liquid.
Reduce back to medium, cooking chicken until no longer pink and done throughout, about 15 minutes.
When done, remove chicken from liquid, drizzle with olive oil, cover and set aside.
Strain liquid and return to pot.
Add sliced celery and carrots.
In a small bowl, combine corn muffin mix, spices, sugar and flour.
Moisten with milk.
Stir until incorporated and batter can be dropped by tablespoonfuls into gently cooking liquid.
Cover and cook until dumplings are cooked through, about 8 minutes.
The dumplings will cook apart slightly and this will serve as the thickening agent  and add texture.
Carefully add chicken and tomatoes back to dumplings and reduce to low.
Stir in parsley and butter.
Serves 4 to 6.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Posh Pork and Beans, Gluten Free!!

Pork and beans, two staples in many cultures diets. Singularly, they display a wide variety of diversity and flavor, and together... well, you get that stuff found in those tiny cans and eat on camping trips and fish banks, lol.  At least that is what pops into my head.
Those little cans of sodium and tomato saucy laden sustenance personify a day in time when, money was tight, time to eat was short, and bellies needed fuel for the oftentimes grueling work days that started too early and ended way too late.  Nevertheless, that past is still realistically for some, the present. This protein packed meal in a can has been a mainstay since the early 1900's.
     This recipe is an homage to the trusty pork and bean era.  I created a modern day riff of those guys, bringing in a tad more pork to the beans, as opposed to the scant morsel of pork fat that represented the pork portion of it's name.  I wanted to showcase this often overlooked combination in a way packed with fresh herbs and flavor, including some fresh tomato, no sauce.
There are three types of beans in this version, as well as fresh rosemary and thyme.  The bean mixture is marinated in a simple vinaigrette of olive oil, seasoned rice vinegar and fresh lime juice.   The pork is marinated also in an Asian inspired and fiery paste, then sauteed until done and may be served as two separate dishes, or mounded together for a new taste of the old school.  This dish definitely could coral in some of those pork and bean naysayers.  Oh, by the by, vegetarians and vegans may enjoy the 3 bean salad alone, or simply substitute the pork for tofu.  Seitan may also be switched in, but with society moving more towards a cleaner, less allergy inducing and more farm to table way of living, eating chunks of wheat gluten really doesn't seem that appetizing to me.
1 15 oz. can EACH kidney beans, vegetarian beans and pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1 large yellow tomato
3 sprigs fresh thyme, stems removed
1 tbsp. fresh chopped rosemary
1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil
1/4 c. seasoned rice vinegar
juice of two limes
Place beans, tomato and herbs in a medium bowl.
Whisk oil, vinegar and lime juice together until blended and pour over bean mixture.
Fold until well incorporated and coated.
Cover with plastic wrap and let marinate at room temperature for 15 minutes.
Serves 6 to 8.
1 lb. boneless pork loin, cut into 1/4 inch cubes
2 tbsp. vegetable oil
2 tbsp. hot pepper paste
2 tbsp. seasoned rice vinegar
1 tbsp. fish sauce
Combine wet ingredients in bottom of medium bowl.
Add pork and fold into marinade.
Refrigerate for 20 minutes.
Saute over medium high heat until no longer pink and internal temperature reaches 145*F.
Serves 4.