Tag Archives: Chicken/Poultry

Black Beans and Rice…Fancy Style!

Happy 2012!

Everybody make some stellar resolutions for the new year?  I did!  …I resolve to see Paris in the spring (or summer)!  …That’s a resolution, right?  I haven’t thought all that much about it yet, but I’m going to figure out how to make it happen!

My holiday weekend was spent working the early shift, which to be honest, does not agree with me!  I’m a complete night owl!  When I wake up at 4am (give or take a couple hours…), I’m worthless by the time I get home from work.  I don’t want to clean.  I don’t want to exercise.  I don’t want to cook.  All I want to do is sit on the couch and watch Lifetime movies.  Lame (and incredibly embarassing!), but true.  Sometimes I force myself to get things done, but I’ve got to say…it ain’t easy!

After work yesterday I had good intentions.  I stopped at the grocery store, Bon Appetit in hand, and filled my cart with veggies, organic chicken breasts, and beans.  I even bought a bottle of sparkling pink grape juice (Piyush doesn’t drink…and I had to be up early for work).  I planned on making an easy…but awesome New Years Eve dinner since neither Piyush nor I wanted to go out.  Well, that didn’t happen! Sometimes good intentions aren’t enough.  I needed motivation, but must have hit my yearly limit…because I found none!  …We ordered sushi instead, and I promised myself I’d definitely cook the next day. Piyush and I enjoyed our sushi dinner (kind of.  It wasn’t the best…) and then I went to bed at 8:30pm!  That never happens!  He woke me up at midnight to give me my New Years kiss, then he went back downstairs to watch golf, or something.  I had a full 8 hours of sleep, and it was wonderful!

Once work was over, I came home and started preparing for dinner.  This way I couldn’t decide to be lazy.  I poached the chicken breasts and made the apple salsa.  I was trying a new recipe I saw in January’s issue of Bon Appetit: Black Beans and Rice with Chicken and Apple Salsa.

As I was paging through the magazine, the recipe jumped out at me…and I knew I wanted to make it.  Well, I mostly wanted to eat it…but it had to be made to be eaten.  This recipe was super easy and really flavorful!  Like, really flavorful!  I think the apple salsa was my favorite part!

I made a few changes to the recipe, but they were pretty minor.  First, I don’t like rotisserie chicken.  Sure, it’s incredibly easy…and cheaper than organic chicken breasts, but there’s something about the flavor that doesn’t sit right with me.  I think they’re too salty.  Instead, I poached two chicken breasts in a pan with enough water to cover them.  I threw in a bay leaf and a few spices…and wham!  In addition to my super tender chicken, I also had homemade broth.  It didn’t have as much flavor as stock that simmers all day long with bones and herbs, but I’ll tell you one thing.  It was way better than canned or boxed broth that has ingredients listed that I don’t even know if they’re safe to consume.  Bought chicken broth usually has that “off” flavor, anyway…and if you get the organic unsalted stuff, it’s expensive!

A quick note on the organic thing, we don’t buy everything organic.  We’d be broke if we did.  Meat is one item I really try hard to purchase as either organic or straight from the farmer who raised it, though.  It doesn’t always happen, but I get sorta creeped out by a lot of the things I’ve read about hormones and slaughterhouses…and to be honest, I want to eat the meat for what it is…not for what chemicals it was injected with. 

Back to the recipe, I also cooked the rice (white rice, because it’s what we had on hand) in our rice cooker in some of that homemade chicken broth.  The recipe didn’t specify to rinse the beans, but I definitely did.  That bean goo creeps me out…and they’re doused in so much unnecessary sodium.  A quick rinse cured both those problems.

I’m so glad we have a lot of left overs and I can’t wait to gobble up that apple salsa again tomorrow! Wooo! Wooo!

The Recipe:

Black Beans and Rice with Chicken and Apple Salsa

Adapted from Bon Appetit (link to recipe here)

  • 1 cup chopped peeled Granny Smith apple
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro, divided
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped red onion, divided
  • 1 teaspoon (or more) fresh lime juice
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped green bell pepper
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 3/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 3 cups low-salt chicken broth
  • 2 15-ounce cans black beans, rinsed and drained
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 cups cooked brown or white rice
  • 1 2–3-pound rotisserie chicken, skin discarded and meat shredded
  • 4–6 lime wedges

Directions:

  • Combine apple, 1/4 cup cilantro, 2 tablespoons onion, and 1 teaspoon lime juice in a small bowl; toss to coat. Set apple salsa aside.
  • Combine remaining onion, bell pepper, and oil in a large skillet. Cook over medium heat, stirring often, until completely softened, 6–7 minutes. Add garlic and next 3 ingredients; stir constantly for 2 minutes. Stir in broth and beans; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium; simmer briskly, mashing some of the beans with the back of a spoon and stirring often, until sauce is thickened, 8–10 minutes. Season with salt, pepper, and more lime juice, if desired.
  • Divide rice and beans among plates. Top with some chicken and apple salsa. Garnish with remaining 1/4 cup cilantro and lime wedges.

Indian Dinner in an Hour!

Today I woke up craving Indian food.  It’s been awhile since I’ve had a really amazing, homemade Indian dinner.  Too long, actually.  As good as the Indian restaurant can be, it never really hits the spot entirely.  Last time we were there, all I wanted was lamb curry; and that’s what we ordered.  But what we got was overcooked lamb in a so-so gravy.  Not at all amazing.   Piyush and I left with full tummies but we were both a little lot disappointed.  Sometimes I just don’t want to cook though…and most of the time I regret it. Continue reading

Braised Pheasant with Red Cabbage and Wild Rice

I come from a family who loves to hunt for their food.  Saturdays and Sundays during the fall were spent walking the fields around SE Minnesota, with dogs in tow, trying to flush out birds.  …Pheasants, to be exact.

This is Titan. He's a britany spaniel. He's one of many, many hunting/family dogs we've had through all the years

I never really enjoyed hunting and only went with a few times (I never actually carried a gun…and if I would have, I would have never been able to point it at something to kill it.  That’s just not something I could do).   Most of the times that I tagged along, I was more of an annoyance for my dad than anything.  I hated that I had to be quiet, I didn’t like that you couldn’t eat anything for hours on end, and I despised that I was really expected to go to the bathroom behind some trees?!?!  I also didn’t enjoy when I’d be walking along, minding my own business, and all the sudden a pheasant would fly up right in front of me!  That is scary!

Aside from not enjoying hunting, I also refused to eat any of their kills.  Infact, this extended to me refusing to eat fish as well.  I just could not bear to see an animal being shot, skinned, caught or filleted.  I was kind of a hypocrite though.  I’d eat beef and chicken without ever questioning how it got on my plate.  My mom would often cook venison and pheasant and tell me that it was beef or chicken.  She knew I liked the taste, but if I knew the truth, I would not touch it. This lasted for years.

Eventually, when I was in college, I began to eat venison occasionally…and I loved it!  I also started eating fish again.  I still refused the pheasant. But last year my brother in law went pheasant hunting for the first time,

Brian, after his first hunting adventure

he got 2 birds and gave one to Piyush.  Piyush has never eaten pheasant and really wanted to try it, so I agreed to fix it for him.  …I put the bird in the freezer, where it has been haunting me ever since.

The truth is, this is the first time I have knowingly eaten pheasant since I was probably 10 years old.  It is also the first time I have ever cooked it.  Mom always put it in the slow cooker with some veggies, but I didn’t really want to do that.  So I turned to google.  Not very many recipes turned up, and so I decided to search epicurious.  Success!  I found a recipe for “Braised Pheasant with Red Cabbage Wild Rice”.  This sounded delicious!…but then again, anything with wild rice sounds delicious to me!

I have to say, this recipe was incredibly time consuming.  You have to be a good multi-tasker (thank god, I am) for this to be a success.  It also uses a lot of pans and utensils, so aside from having awesome multitasking skills, you should also have extraordinary dish washing abilities.  Believe me, you’ll need them!

I followed the recipe for the most part, but had to make a few substitutions.  I also noticed that the recipe had some major problems—mainly involving the wild rice.  It called for 1 cup of water to 1/2 cup of rice.  Now, if it was regular white rice, this would not be an issue.  But wild rice is not white rice.  It needs approximately 4c of liquid to ever 1c of rice.  The recipe also says to bake the rice.  I did as I was told, but I did not like the results and would totally do it differently next time.  I’d boil the rice, uncovered, on my stove top.  Rice aside, this recipe was pure gold!  The flavor was tremendous and I could imagine ordering this at a high class restaurant (and paying a pretty penny for it, too!).

 Braised Pheasant with Red Cabbage Wild Rice (via Epicurious)

The Recipe:

For wild rice

  • 1/2 cup wild rice
  • 1 cup chicken broth (please, increase this to 2c…at least!)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 slices bacon
  • 1 small onion, sliced thin
  • 2 cups thinly sliced red cabbage (about 1/6 head)
  • 2 teaspoons red-wine vinegar ( I used a mixture of balsamic vinegar–probably 2 teaspoons, and red wine–probably a good 3/4 of a cup.  It made the flavor shine!)

For pheasant

  • a 2-pound pheasant (mine was skinless, breasts still on bone)**
  • 1 1/2 cups water (I skipped this and used chicken broth instead)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice (made my own using equal parts cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/3 cup golden raisins
  • 1/4 cup minced shallots (about 3)
  • 1/4 cup gin
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 teaspoon tomato paste (I used 1/2 of a large sized heirloom tomato)
  • a 3-inch fresh rosemary sprig plus 1/2 teaspoon minced leaves (had to use dried.  Unfortunately.  I didn’t have fresh on hand)
  • 1/2 cup halved red and/or green seedless grapes (I used red, and this totally made the recipe!)

**I think you could probably substitute chicken, venison, maybe even beef? for the pheasant in the recipe and it would turn out divine!

Make wild rice:

Preheat oven to 350°F.

In a fine sieve rinse wild rice well and drain. In a small saucepan bring broth to a simmer. In a small flameproof casserole Sauté rice in oil over moderately high heat, stirring, 1 minute and stir in hot broth and salt and pepper to taste. Bring mixture to a boil and bake, covered, in middle of oven 1 hour, or until liquid is absorbed and rice is tender.

While rice is cooking, in a 10-inch skillet cook bacon over moderate heat until crisp and transfer to paper towels to drain. Transfer all but 1 tablespoon drippings to a small bowl and reserve for cooking pheasant.

Heat drippings remaining in skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking and sauté onion and cabbage, stirring, until softened. Add vinegar and salt and pepper to taste and sauté, stirring, 1 minute. Chop bacon. Just before serving, stir cabbage mixture and bacon into wild rice.

Again, I have to say, Please boil the rice.  It’ll turn out better.  If you insist on baking it, at least increase the liquid by about 4 times. 

Make pheasant while rice is cooking:

Rinse pheasant under cold water and pat dry inside and out. Cut pheasant into 6 serving pieces, transferring feet, back, neck, and wing tips to a small saucepan. To saucepan add water and bay leaf and simmer, uncovered, 15 to 20 minutes, or until reduced to about 3/4 cup. Strain stock through a fine sieve into a heatproof bowl.

In a small bowl stir together salt, pepper, and allspice. Pat pheasant dry again and sprinkle evenly with allspice mixture. In a 10-inch heavy ovenproof skillet heat oil with 1 tablespoon reserved drippings over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking and sauté pheasant until golden, about 5 minutes on each side. Transfer pheasant to a plate.

In fat remaining in skillet cook raisins and shallots over moderate heat, stirring, until shallots are softened. Stir in gin and boil until most is evaporated. Stir in wine and boil until reduced by about half. Stir in stock, tomato paste, rosemary sprig, and salt and pepper to taste and bring sauce to a boil.

Add pheasant to sauce, skin sides down, and braise, tightly covered, in middle of 350°F. oven until breast meat is cooked through and tender, about 10 minutes. Transfer breasts to a clean plate and keep warm, covered. Braise legs and thighs until cooked through and tender, about 10 minutes more. Transfer legs and thighs to plate and keep warm, covered. Stir minced rosemary and grapes into sauce and boil until slightly thickened, about 1 minute.

Divide pheasant between 2 dinner plates, spooning sauce over it, and serve with red cabbage wild rice.

I wish my house had better lighting in the evening, because these photos don’t even do this dish justice!  It was stunning on the plate!

Fantastic!

After eating pheasant again…and not being tricked into it…I have to say, we’ll be eating this more often!  The meat was moist and had so much flavor.  It wasn’t tough at all (which is sometimes a problem with pheasant).  The grapes added at the end were brilliant!  They added a little sweetness and were flavored with that beautiful sauce.  I wish you could taste it right now!!!
I’d really like to make this for my family and see what their thoughts are.  They’ve only had pheasant in a crock pot, so I think it would be quite the change!

Coq Au Vin

Today I was craving Coq Au Vin.  I’m not really sure why I was craving it, because I’ve never actually had it before.  It just sounded good.  The weather has been dreary so something slow cooked sounded amazing.  I knew I wanted to use chicken and some veggies, but I didn’t want a hotdish or a casserole (yes, in MN they are 2 different things!).  All the sudden coq au vin popped into my head and I couldn’t get it out.  I looked up a couple recipes in some books I had and then decided to google it too, just in case.  I chose to use Ina Garten’s recipe.  I swear, if you really want to cook something good and know the results will be completely delicious, you want to turn to Ina.  Ina knows everything.

Her recipe called for a dry red wine and some cognac, so I headed to the wine shop.  The guy is always so nice and I won’t buy my wine anywhere else, if I can help it.  I told him I didn’t want to spend a lot of money but I wanted something with incredible flavor.  He picked out Crane Lake,  a Cabernet Sauvignon.  It was only $4.99…which made my pocketbook happy.  When I was paying he told me how pretty my drivers license picture is and that it is one of the best he’s seen….which made me happy.

Then it was off to the butcher shop.  I wish Rochester had a butcher shop with more variety, but what the Ye Olde Butcher Shoppe lacks in product, it makes up for in customer service.  People are just so nice!  I got 1/4 lb of their house smoked bacon and a 3.5lb chicken.  The guy offered to dice up the bacon for me (how did he know that’s what I was going to do with it?) and he chopped the chicken into 8 pieces for me.  Next time I’ll ask them to slice the breasts in half too, they were just huge!

I finally made it home after adventuring around town and running all sorts of errands.  I got some oil in the dutch oven and sliced an onion and some carrots while it all got nice and hot.  When the oil was hot I threw in the bacon and let it sizzle.  I’m not someone who loves bacon…I’m not even sure that I like it all that much…but this stuff from the butcher shop was like nothing I’ve ever tasted from the grocery store.  It had so much flavor!

Then it was time to brown the chicken.  I’ve never actually fried anything successfully in my life.  I don’t like fried food, so I don’t make fried food.  I needed the skin to be crispy though so I tossed it in the hot oil and hoped for the best.  It got some nice color but gosh!, hot oil sure makes a mess!!!

A glass of wine makes frying chicken a whole heck of a lot easier! 🙂

I love that Coq Au Vin is, for the most part, a one pot meal.  After I set the chicken aside, it was time to throw the sliced onion, carrots and garlic in.  I also love that Coq Au Vin requires ingredients that I usually have on hand.  I only had to buy 4 things to make this dish.

After the carrots got a little tender and the onions turned a little brown…I dumped in the cognac and added the bacon and chicken back into the dish.  I poured 1/2 the bottle of wine and 1 cup of delicious, homemade chicken stock into the pot.  I keep chicken stock in the freezer, frozen flat in ziplock bags.  It’s so easy to make and tastes a billion-trillion times better than store bought.  I had forgot to thaw some out so I simply ran hot water over the bag until I had a cup of liquid.  I set the rest aside to finish thawing.

so easy!

I added some thyme and parsley to the pot and then plopped the lid on and put it into a 250 degree (preheated) oven.  I forgot about it for about 40 minutes…during which I made 3 batches of butter-cream frosting for a wedding cake I’m working on tomorrow.  Making the frosting is the worst part!  I absolutely hate it, but now it’s over so I’m feeling a little better about it.  🙂  I also tossed 5 small red potatoes into a pot of boiling water.  When they were done cooking I drained the liquid into a jar.  You want to keep that stuff!  It makes awesome bread.

Make sure to slap a label on it! It looks almost the same as chicken stock!

I threw a little butter into a pan and once it got hot, tossed in 3 fat cloves of garlic.  I sauted for a little while until the garlic was cooked.  Added in some chives and the potatoes, and then smashed away!!!  I added a little of the potato water to the potatoes along with a few ounces of goat cheese, because everything is better with goat cheese!!!

Back to the Coq au Vin.  I chopped the stems off the mushrooms and sliced them pretty thick.

I sauted them in 1tbsp of butter until they were nice and tender…but not overcooked!  The cooked mushrooms and some peeled pearl onions  (definitely buy these frozen….or else they’re just a pain in the ass!) got tossed into the pot and left to simmer awhile with everything else.  It was really that easy!!!  I think it took me about an hour and a half from start to finish—including the time it was chillin’…errr…cookin’ in the oven.

time to dig in!

so good that there was nothin' but chicken bones left!

Find Ina’s recipe for Coq Au Vin HERE.

Garlic-Goat Cheese Mashed Potatoes

(about 6 servings)

  • about 5 small to medium red potatoes, skin on.
  • 1tbsp. butter
  • reserved potato water
  • salt
  • pepper
  • chives, chopped
  • 3 fat garlic cloves, minced
  • goat cheese, to your taste

Directions:

  • Boil some water in a large pot.  Once it’s boiling add in the potatoes.  Allow them to boil for about 20 minutes or until tender.
  • Strain potatoes from water, reserving water for later.
  • Heat 1tbsp butter in a pot and add the garlic.  Saute until it’s cooked.  Add the chives and the potatoes.  Mash the potatoes until they are a smooth consistency.
  • Add in the goat cheese—to your taste, and keep mashing.  Add salt and pepper.
  • Keep mashing, adding reserved potato water a little at a time until you get super smooth, yummy mashed potatoes!

Goat Cheese Mashed Potatoes

Now…time to relax, finish my glass of wine and watch Teen Mom.  Ahhh!  Tuesday nights!