Archive | November, 2012

Pulled Pork, Southern and Easy

29 Nov

I have been to the south (in the U.S., that is) three times now.  Every time I leave there, I am charmed and buttered, literally, both on the inside and outside.  The first time I went to Alabama in the mid 1990’s, I went to my friend Tree’s wedding, and the barbecue they had there was nothing like I had ever tried before: pulled pork on buns with cole slaw and sauce.  I had so many food-gasms during that three day stay that it’s imprint on me is indelible.   Mind you, this is before the ubiquitous Food Network and Travel Channel got really rolling.  In California, this sort of cuisine was not as common then as ’tis now.  The hospitality, too, is unparalleled, even now.

The beautiful part about the t.v. programs now is that they have done a service in conveying these recipes to the masses.  I often ponder if people realize how easy it is to make pulled pork.  So many of the food shows say that we spend way too much money on cuts of meat that are flavorless, but tender, filet mignon being the prime example.  While I tend to disagree with them on some level (filet mignon is a delicacy regardless of their high-falutin-ness), there is something to be said about taking a big hunk of fatty meat and cooking it a long time to make something awesome.  It’s so easy that, even if you work all day, it can be done without even thinking about it.

I searched through the grocery store ads this morning, and I found a pork picnic shoulder for $.99 a pound at Smart and Final.  This was at 7 a.m.  I went and picked up, for $10, a big ol’ pork shoulder with the bone in and fat hanging off of it…just a beauty of a specimen.  What did I do?  I rubbed it with spice and put it in a 300° oven for 9 hours.  Yes, nine whole hours. By the time I took it out (and my house not only did not burn down, but smelled like a palace dedicated to Boss Hogg and the Duke brothers), I had this giant piece of pork falling apart on me, dripping with goodness, and pulled pork sandwiches were waiting for us.  It’s like a slow cooker recipe, but made in the oven.  Get it ready before work, and it’s ready when you get home.  Easy peasy.

Pulled Pork

Ingredients:

A 5-10 lb. pork shoulder, picnic roast, boston butt, or some kind of giant cut of pork with a lot of fat on it.  It’s made to roast for a long time.

Dry Rub:

3 tbsp. paprika

2 tbsp. brown sugar

1 tbsp. dry mustard

1 tbsp. garlic powder

3 tbsp. salt

Makin’ It:

Preheat the oven to 300°. Mix all of the spices together. Put the pork in a baking dish or roasting pan and rub that guy with all of the spices.  Your hands will get caked with it, which makes it primal on some level.  It will look like this when you put it into the oven:

Now, and this is important,  just forget about it.  Really.  Let it cook like this for 6 to 8 hours.

When it’s done, it looks like this:

And after you let it rest for at least 15-20 minutes, shred the pork and get rid of the excess fat and skin (unless you’re into to that sort of thing).   To shred the pork, use two forks, and stab a giant piece of pork with one fork and, using the other fork, pull away the shreds of pork piece by piece.

I made some coleslaw for this.  I bought the packaged cabbage and carrot mix at Smart and Final, and then I made a dressing:

Coleslaw Dressing:

1 tbsp. vinegar

1/2 cup light mayonnaise

1/4 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. celery seeds

1/2 tsp. black pepper, freshly ground

1 tbsp. sugar

Mix all of the ingredients together in a small bowl and pour over the slaw mixture, which should be in a big bowl.  Mix it well so every little leaf has some goodness on it.  Cover it and put it in the fridge to chill.

Pulled Pork Sandwiches: The Final Project

Hamburger or steak rolls, soft

Pulled pork

Coleslaw

BBQ sauce (if you make one that you like and kicks ass, right on.  If you like a bottled one and it kicks ass, right on.)

Now it’s time to put it all together.  Rub the insides of the bun with bbq sauce. Place some shredded pork on the bun, top it with some sauce, top that with some coleslaw, and you will bust your zipper.  It takes all day to make, but it’s hands off, and it feeds everyone around.

Drinks!  A good, rich red, like a Cabernet, is perfect for this.  But, beer, a Coors Banquet Beer or a Miller High Life, was created for this.

Until later, eat, drink, and peace out.

©Jon Marino, 2012

p.s.  I love feedback! Let me know what works, what doesn’t, or what you want.

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Weeknight Green Chicken Enchiladas

28 Nov

Enchiladas used to scare me, too. Having lived amidst lots o’ Mexican people my entire life, I will freely admit that my Mexican food pales in comparison to anything I have gotten from family, friends, and students with Mexican heritage.  But, American-Mexican food still is good, regardless of the sins that take place here across the border, such as adding massive amounts of sour cream and melted cheese.  Just like Italian-American food with its heavy sauces and giant meatballs, the “new world” adaptation of Mexican cuisine is still delectable and indulgent.

Enchiladas would appear to be a lot of work.  They aren’t.  They’re messy, as my colleague Annette warned me, but they’re easy to make and to assemble.

This enchilada recipe actually conforms, somewhat, to a Weight Watchers regimen.  I figure that each enchilada is 3 points on the old system, simply because there is not a lot of filler in each one, so you can have two, be filled, and get away with a 6, or maybe an 8 if you add some beans on the side.

You need to make some Mexican shredded chicken before you do anything. Like most of my recipes, I have gleaned this from a few recipes I have found online and in my books. Here’s my recipe for it:

Mexican Shredded Chicken (for enchiladas, tacos, and burritos)

Ingredients:

2 boneless chicken breasts

1/2 a medium onion

3 cloves garlic, sliced

2 tsp. salt

then…

1 tbsp. butter

1/2 a medium onion, chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

1 tsp. marjoram

1 tsp. black pepper

1/2 14.5 oz. can of diced tomatoes, with some of the juice, too

1/4 cup chicken broth (use the broth that was made when you boiled the chicken)

1 teaspoon salt

Makin’ It:

Put the first four ingredients in a medium saucepan and add enough water to cover it.  Get it to a slow boil, cover it, and reduce the heat to a simmer.  Cook it like this for 25 minutes or so.  Remove the chicken breasts to a bowl and put them in the fridge to cool.  Save the fresh broth. Discard the rest o’ the stuff with impunity and with a French accent.

Once the chicken is cooled, shred it by hand into itsy bitsy shreds. Set it aside in a bowl.

In that saucepan in which you cooked the chicken, which is now cleaned because you’re on top of it, add the butter and melt it over medium heat.  Add the onion and garlic and saute it for about 3 minutes.  Then add the marjoram, pepper, and tomatoes BUT NOT the tomato juice, yet.  Cook this guy for 10 minutes or so.

Then, add the shredded chicken, the diced tomato juice, the chicken broth, and the salt.  Mix it all up until it smiles back at you and you should have this:

This is your enchilada filling, kiddo, and it’s damn good, too. So now you have to assemble these puppies.

Green Chicken Enchiladas

Serves about 6, or 4 hungry people

Ingredients:

1 package corn tortillas

1 recipe Mexican Shredded Chicken (above, duh)

2 large cans of green enchilada sauce, opened with a can opener or a Crocodile Dundee knife

1 cup cheddar or a Mexican blend o’ cheeses, shredded

Makin It:

Preheat the oven to 375°.

Get a 9″ x 13″ baking dish and a smaller one too (again, what you have dictates your “creativity” in this department.  At least it does for me.).

Open one of the cans of sauce and put about a 1/2 cup in the bottom of each dish, spreading the sauce out to cover the entire bottom of each.

Heat a griddle or a skillet over medium heat.  Spray some cooking spray or put a smear of oil in it (not much), and start warming the tortillas until they’re pliable and bendable (they should NOT crack when you fold them…and they’ll be hotter than hell, too, so put them on a plate to do this).

In each tortilla, put about 1/8 cup of the chicken mixture and roll it into a enchilada (or cigarette, depending on your angle and past).  Place each one seam side down in the pan.  As you make them, make sure they are right next to each other without room in between:

Assemble as many as you can with the chicken you have.  When you’ve used all of the chicken mixture, top them all with both cans of sauce (it will seem like you’re drowning them, but that’s ok).  Then top them with some cheese.  They will look like this:

(Notice that I have a large dish and a small one.  This is what my recipe comes out to, but if you mess with it, I’m sure you can get it perfectly even to fill identical dishes and appease the OCD tendencies.  I wouldn’t notice this unless I felt the same way myself, right?  But I got over it somehow.)

Put these babies in the oven for about 25 minutes.  If you’re daring, turn on the broiler for the last minute or two to get the cheese browned, but be careful not to burn it.  When it comes out, you get this:

Let it sit a few minutes and then dish it out.  This is filling, tasty and healthy.  Moreover, if there are just two of you, like it is for my wife and me, then you have lunch for a few days.

Or even better, these enchiladas for breakfast with a few fried eggs on them will make you slap your mama for sure.

The Beans

I should have a separate post for this, but this is a side for most of my Mexican-American dishes, so wait I will not.

Canned refried beans are part of my upbringing.  I have tried to make refried beans from scratch and have failed miserably (I am a total joke in the Mexican community of which I am a part in spirit).  But, with a few additions, even the canned variety can awe and tickle the taint of anyone.

See these guys?

These guys remind me of my childhood in Orange County, California.  If you ever went to Huntington Beach down Beach Boulevard and went to the Snack Shack there, or Jack’s nearer to the pier, there was this hot sauce in the dispensers during the 70’s and 80’s for the nachos (really, tortilla chips only, honestly).  This is about as close to it as you will get, I think, so it hits home with me.

The “hot” variety of this is no joke, either.  It packs a punch, so watchale (Spanglish for “watch out”).

So, if you empty a can of refried beans into a sauce pan, add about 1/4 cup o’ Pico Pica, and slam a dollop of sour cream in there, you have some seriously good refried beans for a side or for scooping with chips.  If you like cumin, add a teaspoon in the beans as well and it will smell like sex (I’m not being facetious here, either).

Top it with some cheese and you’re good to go.

Drinks!  Corona, Modelo, Negro Modelo, Dos XX, margaritas…you get the drift.

Until later, eat, drink, and peace out.

©Jon Marino, 2012

Green Eggs and Ham

27 Nov

A few weeks back, I wrote a post called “The Shame” wherein I describe an off-the-cuff meal involving a bagel thin, a breakfast sausage patty, a fried egg, and some sriracha sauce.  (https://dinnerwithjonny.com/2012/11/11/the-shame/)  The concept behind this dish, the idea of some sort of bread topped with a meat, and then topped with an egg and sauce, has many manifestations, both obscene and elegant.  The above example, Green Eggs and Ham, is more on the elegant side.

I have always wanted to try Green Eggs and Ham just based of the book of the same name by Dr. Seuss (which I learned is actually pronounced “soyce”, which rhymes with “voice”).  It’s strange that I hadn’t heard of any recipe for this before I read the Eat Like a Man cookbook, but there it was.  It was then that the whole concept of it all smacked me in the head: the Eggs Benedict idea can take on many forms.  While I will focus on Green Eggs and Ham here,  I will list some variations at the end of this post.

Green Eggs and Ham

(serves 2)

Ingredients:

4 eggs, poached or fried

2 English muffins, split and toasted

Ham, 4 to 8 slices of any variety (I love capacola on this, but in these pictures, I used leftover Thanksgiving ham, which also is excellent)

1/4 to 1/2 cup pesto (I use the store-bought refrigerated kind, which is perfect)

Makin’ It:

Poach or fry the eggs.  For your information, poaching eggs is totally easy and probably the healthiest way to eat an egg.  To do it, boil water in a large saucepan and add a teaspoon of vinegar to it.  Crack the egg into a measuring cup.  Get the water swirling…like a whirlpool…and then, with the measuring cup as close to the water as possible, drop that baby into the vortex.  Repeat with the other eggs and let them cook for three minutes.  Remove them with a slotted spoon to a bowl until you’re ready to assemble the Green Eggs and Ham.

This is how easy this is.  Place the toasted muffin halves on the plate and top the ham.  Top each muffin half with a poached egg.  Then, put a dollop of pesto on each egg.  When it’s done, you’ll have this:

The first bite you take of this, try to get every element: muffin, yolk, egg, ham, pesto…and you won’t believe this flavor.  There’s nothing more to be said about it because it’s THAT good.

I serve it with fruit, but if you want to go big, throw some hash browns or breakfast potatoes on the side.

Drinks! Have you gotten into prosecco yet?  If not, go pick up the $6.99 bottle at Trader Joe’s and you’ll be hooked.  It’s a crisp Italian sparkling wine.

Mimosas work well here too.

This can work as breakfast, brunch, lunch, or dinner and everybody’s happy.

Variations:

Eggs Benedict: English muffins + ham + eggs + Hollandaise sauce (packet mix is good for this)

Steak Benedict:  English muffins + steak + eggs + Hollandaise

Eggs Benito (as in Mussolini): polenta slices + capacola + eggs + marinara sauce

Green Huevos and Jamon: English muffins + ham + eggs + salsa verde or a cilantro-based salsa or green taco sauce (i.e. something green)

Mushroom Benedict: English muffins + mushrooms (see recipe) + eggs + hollandaise or pesto (https://dinnerwithjonny.com/2012/11/13/sauteed-mushrooms-a-la-jonny/)

Obviously, your imagination is the limit here. Whatever is in the fridge that sounds like it would work, make it work.

Until later, eat, drink, and peace out.

The Thanksgiving Breakdown

20 Nov

(My wife’s company grows most of the poinsettias for Costco throughout southern California, f.y.i. Imagine a few football fields of red and that’s what you got here.  This has nothing to do with this blog, of course, but I do get to show off my son Tony.)

Since I haven’t had this blog since last Thanksgiving, and I won’t start cooking my dinner for 14 people until Wednesday night into all day Thursday, I figure I will just list my planned menu for this feast o’ feasts.  Truly, if I went to someone’s house for Thanksgiving and Tommy’s Burgers were served, I would kiss the cook (or buyer) just for their irreverence.

The main recipes for my dinner are online and I do variations on them, to be sure, but sometimes those variations happen when 1) I’m feeling a bit o’ whimsy or 2) I’m a bottle of red into the evening and dinner isn’t even on the table.  One interesting note that both my mom and my Aunt Charlotte have repeatedly made to me over the years: Thanksgiving is an easy meal.  It’s the basic American fare on a larger scale.  So here goes…

Thanksgiving Dinner for 14

Appetizers around 2:35 p.m.-ish

Ham and Swiss Puff Pastry:  http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/ham-and-cheese-in-puff-pastry-recipe/index.html

  • This is ridiculously good and simple to make.  A place in Orange, CA, called The Hobbit has a similar appetizer called a French Sandwich, which is the same concept but with salami and pepper jack instead of ham and swiss (both with dijon).

Some good, crisp potato chips (like Tim’s Cascade or the Hawaiian BBQ/ Maui Onion ones).  Dip? Store bought packets of toasted onion dip (like Laura Scudders) mixed into sour cream.  Nothing like it.

Cheese plate: soft mild to medium to bleu-ish, served with nuts, dried fruit, and crackers.  Three cheeses, that is.

Drinks!  Champagne and cocktails; knowing my brothers, it’s Cuba Libre time.  For the kids, sparkling apple cider.

Dinner around 4:07-ish

2 Turkey Roulades:  http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/roasted-turkey-roulade-recipe/index.html

  • I made this the first time two years ago and I do not think I will go back to making a regular turkey for a long time.  This is easy, too, and the stuffing will have you cryin’ yourself to sleep on yer huge pillow!  Everybody loves this.
  • Make the stuffing a day ahead.

1 Ham from the store, poked with cloves and some sort of glaze put over it.  This is also a piece of cake.

Mashed potatoes

Roasted Butternut Squash (this takes the place of yams at our table)

  • Preheat the oven to 425°.
  • Cube up a few pounds of butternut squash (or buy the precubed from Costco or Trader Joe’s) and toss them with a bit of olive oil, salt, pepper, and chili powder until they’re coated.  Place in a single layer on one or two baking sheets (depending on how much you’re making, but don’t overcrowd them).
  • Cook for about 30 to 35 minutes, tossing once, and make sure they’re browned and the edges are crisped.

Green beans or a green bean casserole (I haven’t decided yet)

Gravy from the packet (it’s good, so foodies, again, can piss off)

Cranberry Sauce from the can or maybe from scratch…haven’t gotten there yet.

Dinner rolls

Drinks! Water with lemon all around, and glasses for both white and red.  I am responsible for the meal part and everyone else is bringing the wine.  We live in the wine country, so you can imagine that this gets fantastic very quickly.  Kids get whatever their little hearts desire.

Dessert when it happens

It’s all store bought, to be honest.  It’s so easy and good.  Pecan pie, pumpkin pie, apple pie, and some ice cream.

Drinks! Coffee and some liqueurs, perhaps Strega or Sambuca…we shall see.

If I get some coherent and representative pictures on Thursday, I will be sure to add them.

Happy Thanksgiving!  AND eat, drink, and peace out.

Shepherd’s Pie on a Rainy Night

17 Nov


In college, I took a full load of classes every quarter and I worked 30 hours a week waiting tables at T.G.I. Chotchkie’s.  I only partied on Thursday nights at an Irish pub in Costa Mesa, California, called The Harp Inn, which is still there.  Back in the early ’90’s, a now well-known Irish band called The Fenians played there (a fantastic band still http://www.thefenians.com/ ), and my friends and I debauched systematically with the help of Guinness and Irish whiskey, dancing to and singing the traditional Irish songs. The Harp even had a table reserved for us and, in retrospect, I probably could have funded my child’s college education with the amount of shots I bought for myself, lifelong friends, and the band.

Sometimes I would show up early when the band was setting up, and I would get some dinner.  The Harp is not a traditional Irish pub, but it tried in a cute way, and maybe it still does.  It was here that I had my first Shepherd’s Pie.  It’s basically a ground beef stew topped with mashed potatoes and crisped under the broiler to give it a crust.

The two times I’ve been to Ireland, I was sure to get it when I could.  It’s a staple there, and if you make it because of this post, I think you’ll understand why.  Like many Irish and English dishes, it’s comfort food, meant to warm you on a brusque, rainy night, or to line your body for an evening heavy drinking.

Seasoned ground beef and veggies cooked in some way is the base of many dishes in a lot different cultures, as I will explore as time goes on.  The best part about all of them is that they’re usually cheap to make, they’re filling, they’re creative, and they’re comforting.  Without further ado, let’s take a stroll down Broadway, meaning not long for to stray…

Like most of my recipes (except family ones or the few I’ve thought up), I find them in a book or online, and then I mess with them a bit.  I try to give credit to the cooks that have inspired me.  This dish is no different.  The original recipe is here:  http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/danny-boome/mummy-boomes-traditional-shepherds-pie-recipe/index.html

I love this partly because of the name, Mummy Boome’s Traditional Shepherd’s Pie.  It HAS to be good, doesn’t it?  Still I do make some changes in my version.

Ingredients:

1 tbsp. butter

1 tbsp. olive oil

1 onion, chopped

3 carrots, peeled, halved and quartered lengthwise, and sliced 1/2″ thick (they should look like quarter moons, dude)
2 celery stalks, sliced 1/2″ thick

4 cloves garlic, pressed or minced

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. pepper

2 tablespoons tomato paste

2 pounds lean ground beef or lamb (I use only beef) *Note: Costco has a 5-pack of 90% lean ground 1lb. beef chubs in their frozen section for $15 or so…totally worth it.

3 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce

1/2 cup beef broth

1 cup peas, frozen or fresh

Mashed Potatoes (recipe later)

Makin’ It

Preheat the oven to 400°.

In a large non-stick skillet, heat the oil and butter over medium-high heat and add the onions, carrots, celery, and garlic. Cook this for 10 to 12 minutes, until they start to brown.

Add in the tomato paste and mix it all together well.

Add the ground beef (or lamb), crumbling it as you add it, and cook it for another 10 to 12 minutes until it’s not pink anymore.

Next, add the Worcestershire sauce and the broth.  Get this to a simmer and let it cook for another 10 minutes.  It should look like this:

Mix in the peas at this point.

Mashed Potatoes:

Ingredients:

3 to 4 lbs. of whatever potatoes you got goin’ on, peeled and cubed into 1″ chunks (russets or white ones work best…but to use the red skinned ones for some visual sexiness would kick ass…I’ll try that next time.)

a few tablespoons of margarine or butter

Salt and pepper to taste

1/4 cup o’ milk or cream (what you choose depends on your level of indulgence)

1 cup cheddar (the Boome recipe calls for aged English cheddar, and I know he’s right, but I had run-of-the-mill supermarket cheddar tonight, and it was great too.)

Makin’ It:

Get a pot of salted water boiling well, add the potatoes, and get them mashable, about 15 to 20 minutes (to check, take a chunk of potato out of the water and a fork should split it apart easily, leaving crumbs and residue on the fork)

Drain the potatoes and add the rest of the ingredients.  Use a masher or electric mixer to get them fluffed.  Important! You want these taters to be firm rather than soft because you will want to shape them into peaks on top of the Shepherd’s Pie.

Assembly

Get a 9″ x 13″ baking dish (or something equivalent or whatever you have in terms of baking dishes…that’s what the Irish would do), spoon in the beef mixture, and make it an even layer:

(Note: I added the peas right after this, hence the omission here.)

Now spoon on the mashed potatoes, and do it like you’re frosting a cake or you will mix up the beef melange with it too much.  In other words, spoon dabs of it all over and then gently spread it out until you’ve used all of the mashed pots.

This is the fun part.  Take a fork and run it all over the potatoes to give it texture.  Make peaks and stuff like that so it will crisp up.  Here’s what mine looked like before the oven:

Stick this in the oven for 20 minutes.  In the last 3 minutes, turn on the broiler and get the top even crispier.  Be careful not to burn it, so glue yourself to the oven window and watch it until you get that tingly sensation in your nether regions.  This is what I took out this evening:

To serve this, take a big ol’ serving spoon and dig to the bottom and try to lift it out like a pie.  It’s supposed to be a bit of a pile, so don’t get OCD about it, Cake Boss.  Here it is:

You can serve this with green beans or a veggie, of course, but this is pretty filling on its own.  Believe it or not, if you notice the recipe, it’s not that bad for you, either…just don’t eat half of it in one sitting.

This serves about 6 people, from my reckoning.

Drink:  Weirdly, Chianti. Italian begins with an “I”, and so does Irish, so it makes sense.  My rationale?  Italian wine is meant to be drunk, not to be stored and gawked at.  This dish is meant to be eaten and enjoyed, not to be overanalyzed by Anton Ego. Guinness would be ideal but, alas, I had none.

Until later, eat, drink, and peace out.

© Jon Marino, 2012

No Cuss Asparagus

16 Nov

I hear Asparagus singing, the varied carols I hear!

I also hear cooks cussing from not far, but near.

by Me, but inspired by Whitman, and this will be a short post, so I need fillers, much like higher-ups who conduct meetings that should only take 20 minutes, but manage to stretch it out into a whole in-service.  If you’re a teacher, you know what I’m saying.

Good asparagus is easy to make.  It’s good for you, it’s zero points on Weight Watchers if you only put salt and pepper on it, and they’re very erotic looking, which always a plus for the single guys trying to impress the ladies with their cooking.  There are a grip o’ recipes all over the internet.  But, I figured that I’d put it in here because I did just make it.

Roasted asparagus can have a few options to it,  but to get it going is simple.

Ingredients:

1 bunch on asparagus, or as many as you need to serve your guests

a drizzle of olive oil, fo shizzle (sorry)

salt and pepper

Makin’ It:

Jonny Logic (which sometimes can NOT work)!  If you preheat your oven to 400°, it will take you about 20-25 minutes to roast them.  If you heat it to 425°, it will take about 12-15 minutes to roast them.  I write this because, if you have one oven, you might be cooking another dish with a different temperature, so you want to maximize your oven space, right?.  For example, I was making roasted potatoes with this meal, so my oven was at 425°, so I put my asparagus in when I had about 15 minutes left.  If I had had a 400° oven going, then more time would be needed, etc.

Anyhow, preheat the oven to 425°.  Wash the asparagus, cut off the hard ends, and lay them on a baking sheet.

Drizzle them lightly with olive oil, but don’t go nuts with it.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  It should look like this:

Cook this for 12 to 15 minutes.  When it’s done, it should be slightly charred but still have some firmness to it, like this:

Options:

  • 5 minutes before they’re done, sprinkle them with some parmesan and put them back in.  You don’t want to burn the cheese, so you have to wait until near the end.
  • Or squeeze half a lemon over them when they’re finished.
  • Or serve them with hollandaise sauce.  There is a plethora o’ recipes for this online, so go for it.  The Weight Watchers one is actually pretty damn good.  Here is a link for that recipe: http://www.bakespace.com/recipes/detail/Weight-Watchers-Hollandaise-Sauce-/25814/

I call this No Cuss Asparagus because it’s so easy, and yet to write this post, I have been cussing at the picture file uploader because it keeps rotating the pictures.  Irony.

Until later, eat, drink, and peace out.

© Jon Marino, 2012

Easy Coconut Chicken Curry

15 Nov

Asian food has fascinated me since my twenties.  Before then, I had had hardly any because my mom just didn’t make it.  So through the years, I have gleaned and stolen and learned what I could to get a working knowledge of Asian food, particularly Thai food, because I love the kick-in-the-groin-with-passion-and-with-loud-exotic-noises spices that are used.  Yan Can Cook?  Goooooood.  Bourdain in Asia 15,000 times?  Goooooood.  Where I live in bible-thumping cowboy country?  Not so good.

This is a Weight Watchers recipe on the old points system.  It’s in one of the little booklets they gave me when I joined, the doughy and pastey bastard that I was…and still am when I don’t watch it.

I tried to find this recipe online, but the Weight Watcher brownshirts have forbidden it; they have even threatened to hunt me down and glaze me with gravy and Crisco, but that’s another story.

There are variations if you look hard enough, but you have this blog, and I love to write recipes, and you don’t even need the booklet, so what’s stopping you?  Nothing.

The old WW points value is a 5 without the rice.  Add a 1/2 cup of rice, which you should, and add 2 more points.  The serving is substantially filling, and incredibly flavorful, even for a WW dish.  If you want to say “Screw you, Weight Watchers!” use regular coconut milk instead of the light version.

Ingredients:

3/4 to 1 pound of boneless chicken (I use breast, but thighs work too), cut into 1-inch chunks

1/2 tsp. salt

Cooking spray (weight conscious cooking) or oil (I’m impervious cooking)

1 bell pepper, thinly sliced (if you don’t like bell pepper, substitute a thinly sliced onion for the effect)

1 bunch scallions, sliced

3 tsp. Red Thai Curry paste

2 tsp. sugar

1 can (14 oz.) light or reduced fat coconut milk (regular if you want)

1 head cauliflower, core removed and broken into florets

3 or 4 carrots, skinned, cut in half lengthwise, and sliced into 1/2 inch pieces (half-moons, dude)

Black pepper to taste

Sliced fresh basil leaves

Makin’ It

Sprinkle the chicken pieces with the salt…pepper is good too.

Heat a non-stick skillet over medium high heat, add the spray or oil, and cook the chicken pieces until brown, 6 or 7 minutes.

Remove this from the skillet and set aside for a bit.

Re-spray or re-oil the pan and add the bell pepper and scallions.  Cook this over medium high heat for about three minutes.

Add in the sugar and the curry paste; mix it up a bit so the paste is broken down and mixed with everything, somewhat.

Then add the coconut milk, mix well, and add the cauliflower florets and carrots.  Mix it all up, bring it to a simmer, cover it, lower the heat to medium low, and cook it for about 7 minutes.

Add in the reserved chicken, and let it cook another 5 minutes, or until the veggies are tender or to your liking.

To serve, divide it between 4 plates with 1/2 cup of rice on each one (alternatively, make two dinners and two lunches).

Top with torn fresh basil leaves and you’ll get this:

I put sriracha sauce on it, as you can see, because I’m ghetto like that.  With the rice, this is 7 points on old Weight Watchers.

If you like crunch, and I can’t believe I’m writing this, get some Spicy Sweet Chili Doritos.  For whatever reason, curry and these chips go together.  It also is one of the reasons I ended up in Weight Watchers, but once in a while, I have to reminisce about those bad romances.

Until later, eat, drink, and peace out.