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Archive for the ‘Chicken’ Category

Everyone loves pad thai.  Even the pickiest of eaters, who won’t dare anything more exotic than sweet and sour chicken (I know Chinese versus Thai, I’m making a point here), love pad thai.  Unfortunately like most Asian foods, no store bought mix, frozen entree, or other concoction measures up to the real deal.  This is due to the unique nature of the “sauce” that makes pad thai what it is.  This characteristic pad thai sauce is really not a sauce at all, but very heavily seasoned scrambled eggs that you fold the other ingredients into before they solidify, leaving the dish impossible to be made well, if not made fresh. This recipe is one of my girlfriend’s absolute favorites, and I decided to make it last night in celebration of me finding some work! As I have been trying to be healthy lately (and doing well I might add!  Eight lbs down, and the last five posts have all been “healthy”) I thought I would run the numbers on this recipe.  The final results, assuming the recipe makes four servings, come out to almost exactly 500 calories per serving (though we dare you to only eat one serving!) So, with no further blabber, here is the recipe:

My mise for the meal (essential for this dish)

Chicken and Shrimp Pad Thai

3 tbs peanut oil

6 cloves garlic, finely minced

1 tbs white sugar

2 tbs soy sauce

1/2 tbs oyster sauce

1/2 tbs golden mountain seasoning sauce (Tuong Gai Vi, if you have been trying to make Thai food, and it doesn’t taste right, this is what you are missing.

1 1/2 tbs Ketchup (yes thats right, tomato ketchup, like Heinz, I promise)

2 eggs, beaten

1/2 lb raw shrimp (whatever size is cheapest that day works)

1 1/2 c. cooked chicken breast meat, chopped to bite size pieces

1/2 lb dry rice vermicelli

1 c. bean sprouts (I forgot these at the grocery store, so they aren’t in the pictures)

3 tbs dry, unsalted, roasted peanuts, crushed a little (I throw em in a plastic baggy and beat them with either my meat pounder or a rolling pin a couple of times so they are busted up but not ground

1 tsp red chili flakes

2 green onions sliced thinly

1/4 c. cilantro, chopped

First I would like to say that due to the extremely fast cooking time of this recipe, it is essential that you make a mise, as has been discussed in previous posts.  If you do not do this, your dish will not come out.

So in the interest of preparing this dish, you must first cook your vermicelli.  Follow the directions on the packaging for the cooking time, and once the noodles are cooked completely strain and thoroughly rinse the noodles in ice cold water, while pulling and separating the noodles with you hands.  Vermicelli is notoriously bad at sticking to itself, and thoroughly rinsing the noodles while working them will prevent this.  After the noodles are ice cold, and strained, pour a tablespoon of oil on them and toss to coat, again to prevent sticking.  Cover the noodles with a sheet of plastic wrap until you are ready to use them.

Next, defrost the shrimp in cold water and peel them completely, including the tails. Next you are going to precook the shrimp, and I have a trick for this that will keep the shrimp from being overcooked (as they will be cooked again gently while assembling the dish, and no one likes tough overcooked shrimp).  To perfectly cook shrimp that will later be cooked again in stir-frys, pasta sauces, etc. bring a medium pot of water to a boil for 1/2 lb cold uncooked shrimp.  Dump the shrimp into the water and stir gently from time to time to keep them from sticking to the bottom of the pot, the instant the pot returns to a boil the shrimp are ready to be removed.  At this point they will still look slightly undercooked, and thats ok, thats what we want, so they can finish later, but not end up overcooked. If the shrimp are 40 count or larger, cut them into bite sized pieces and set aside for later.

Finally, combine the sugar, soy sauce, oyster sauce, golden mountain seasoning and ketchup in a ramekin or bowl and set aside.  Now if you have cut everything else up, and measured all your ingredients you are ready to cook!

Pad thai in serving dish, garnished and ready to be dished out

Most recipes for Asian dishes are very unhealthy because they call for ungodly amounts of oil.  I have found that this is completely unnecessary, and have learned a trick that keeps food from sticking to the wok without all the oil.  The trick is that if at any point your food starts sticking to the wok, pour in a scant 1-2 tbs of very cold water and toss your ingredients.  If you have a well seasoned wok, this will unstick your food without altering the taste of the dish.  Be sure you only use small amounts of water at a time or it wont vaporize on hitting the wok, and will water down your dish.

For the Actual Dish:

(This cooking time is extremely short, like 5 minutes, and thus no pictures of the process were taken)

Heat a wok over very high heat, and add oil.  Once the oil “dances” add in the garlic and cook quickly, stirring constantly until it is just starting to take on a little color (just a little, no one likes burnt garlic).  Now add in the chicken and shrimp and cook, tossing constantly, to heat through.  Add in the sauce, mix with meats and garlic then add in the two beaten eggs.  Stir quickly to combine the eggs and sauce and let sit for about 2 minutes, until the eggs just start to set.  At this point add in the vermicelli and toss to coat in the egg-sauce mixture.  Add in all but a pinch or two of bean sprouts and cook, tossing constantly until bean sprouts are starting to limp, and the noodles are heated through.  Turn out the pad thai to a serving dish and garnish in this order: peanuts, red pepper flakes, reserved bean sprouts, green onions, and cilantro.  Thats all there is to it, you are now ready to eat!

Healthy Chicken and Shrimp Pad Thai

Chicken and Shrimp Pad Thai, ready for scarfage!

And as always, Enjoy!

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I know I promised to keep my posts healthy, but sometimes you just need something rich and hearty.  Such was my desires the other day, so I modified, and tweaked a carbonara recipe.  I would like to say that this rustic, classic style carbonara is healthy, but seeing as the only real ingredients in the recipe are egg yolks, pancetta, cheese, and pasta, I think that would be a bit of a stretch. That being said, this recipe is low in calories. 🙂

This is likely to be unlike any carbonara you have ever had in an American-Italian restaurant; this recipe uses no cream.  I know, I can hear a collective gasp coming as you read that last sentence, but the truth is, this dish doesn’t need cream.  The perfect ratios and pairings of the ingredients, combined with the proper technique produce a delightfully rich, and flavorful carbonara without adding tons of oil and cream.  With these modifications, and the use of Dreamfields linguini (which only has 5 digestible carbs per serving), this dish (which serves 6) comes in at just under 400 calories per serving (if you choose to use real pasta, each serving is still only around 600 calories). So you want to hear the recipe?  All right, here we go…

Lo-Cal Chicken Linguini Carbonara

(adapted from Two Meatballs in the Italian Kitchen, Mark Strausman and Pino Luongo)

My mise for Chicken Linguini Carbonara

2 tbs salt

1/2 lb pancetta, cut to 1/4″ dice (Ghetto Chopper) does not have pancetta, so I substituted some really thick applewood smoked bacon, and it worked out fantastically)

1 medium red onion, very thinly sliced

2 c. chopped up roasted chicken breast

1 large egg

3 large egg yolks

1 package of Dreamfields Linguini

2 tbs extra virgin olive oil

1/2 cup freshly grated parmesean

1 tbs ground black pepper

Bring enough water to cook a package of pasta to a boil, salt, reduce heat to low, and cover pot.

I can’t say this enough, but for this dish especially it is very important that you have all of your ingredients prepped before you begin.  This dish is all about timing, and execution, if you take too long during any number of steps you will ruin the dish.  So please, please, make a mise, and prep everything, have all the ingredients measured out and in bowls ready to go before you start.

That disclaimer being said, heat a large skillet over low heat and add the pancetta or bacon.  Cook stirring regularly to prevent sticking and scorching until the meat has given up all of its fat and is starting to take on color. At this point add in the onion and continue to cook until the onion is starting to take on some color and the bacon is almost crisp.  Add in the chicken and cook to heat through.

What your pancetta or bacon should look like when it has "released all of its fat" and is ready for the onion addition

Pancetta or bacon and onions ready for the chicken to be added

Meat and onion mixture ready to come off the heat

While you are cooking the meats and the onion crack your egg and 3 egg yolks into a stainless steel bowl, and get your arm ready, because you are gonna whisk those babies for 3-5 minutes or until the egg and yolks are pale and almost doubled in volume.

The egg and egg yolks sufficiently whipped to double the volume and achieve that pale yellow color

Now that your arm is likely dead, use the other arm to remove the meat and onions from the burner and crank up the heat under your water to bring it back to a rolling boil.  Add the pasta and cook to al dente.

Once the pasta is ready to be strained, scoop out 1/2 cup of the cooking water (in case your pasta looks dry later for a little juice), and strain pasta thoroughly but quickly (shake that colander up and down a few times with some force to get that water out in a hurry without the pasta setting up or cooling off).  Transfer the pasta to either a large stainless steel or a large glass mixing bowl (ceramic holds too much heat and will likely scramble your eggs instead of thickening them to that delicious saucy state), add in the meat and onion mixture, and the olive oil, and gently but thoroughly toss to distribute with tongs.

Gently but thoroughly, and with a sense of urgency, tossing the pasta...

Now here is where you have to work really fast… Add in the eggs and again, gently but thoroughly (and with a sense of urgency or you will get scrambled eggs) toss the pasta to coat.  If you pasta is looking too dry for you at this point add a little of that reserved cooking water 1 tablespoon at a time, mixing between additions.  Stir in the parmesan and the black pepper and you are ready to serve!

Lo-Cal Chicken Linguini Carbonara plated with some broccolini and a hunk of good bread!

And as always… Enjoy!

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Who doesn’t like great Indian food!? Unfortunately, depending on where you live it can be hard to find good Indian food. Even if you can, it can be difficult to find it for a good price. So, if you are like me, you run to the internet to scour the world wide web for authentic Indian recipes. Unfortunately, I have found that of all the cuisines I have ever tried to research online, this one is by far the trickiest to successfully track down.

Nonetheless, after a number of trials, and a few failed attempts, I have refined an excellent chicken tikka masala recipe. Unfortunately, I didn’t think to take any pictures until I was finished, but it was so good, I had to post. One last thing to mention before I get to the recipe, this version of tikka masala is actually quite healthy. This recipe makes six servings, with each coming in at 550 calories when served over 3/4 cup basmati rice.

On a related note, you will notice some fantastic looking naan in the pictures (an essential if you are going to eat Indian food). I know from my own trials (probably 5 different attempted recipes) and discussions with my friends, that a good naan recipe is next to impossible to track down. So, here is the link to the naan recipe I found and used the other day. Shout out to Manjula Jain for posting this fantastic recipe!

So with no further adieu here is the recipe:

Healthy Chicken Tikka Masala

For the chicken:

1 lb chicken boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut to a 1″ cube

2 c. Chobani plain non-fat yogurt, in 1 c. portions

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tsp ginger root, minced

1 tsp coriander

1 tsp paprika

1 tsp cumin

1 tbs garam masala

For the tomato base

1 28oz can whole tomatoes, crushed by hand

3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped

Check the link above for the recipe

The Best Homemade Naan Ever! Check the link above for the recipe

1 tbs ginger, minced

1 tsp black peppercorns

1 tsp coriander seeds

2 bay leaves

5 whole cloves

cheesecloth

For the actual dish

Tomato base, prepared ahead of time

1 medium onion, sautéed until golden brown, then pureed to a paste

1 tsp garlic paste

1 tsp ginger paste

1 /2 tsp cayenne, (+/-) to your preferences

1 tsp coriander

1 tsp garam masala

1 tsp salt

1 c. Chobani plain, non-fat yogurt

For the Chicken:

To start, at least 1 hour before hand, preferably 4 hours, combine all ingredients listed above, place in a ziplock bag, and let sit in the fridge. Once marinated, skewer all the chicken bits, and grill until cooked through.

For the Tomato Base:

Wrap the peppercorns, coriander seeds, bay leaves, and cloves in the cheesecloth and tie up for easy removal of spices later. Combine all ingredients listed for the tomato base, including spice bundle in a pot and bring to a simmer. Simmer for 30 minutes or until the tomato chunks are soft and ready to fall apart. Remove the spice bundle, and with an immersion blender (or poured into a regular blender) puree the base until smooth.

For the Tikka Masala:

Combine the tomato base, onion, garlic paste, ginger paste, and the spices in a heavy bottomed pot or a wok, and heat to a gentle simmer. After about 5 minutes, add in the cooked chicken, and continue to simmer for 7-8 minutes. Once chicken is heated through and the flavors have melded, stir in the yogurt and cook 2 minutes more. Simple as that, you have chicken tikka masala, ready to be served over some basmati rice! Bon Appetit!

Healthy Chicken Tikka Masala Plated on Basmati Rice, Ready to enjoy!

And as always… Enjoy!

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A few nights ago I was searching for a dish to make that would allow me to use my new enameled dutch oven. I had made a braised veal dish earlier in the week (recipe coming soon) and was looking for something in a different direction. After an hour of flipping through the Joy and Julia I finally stumbled upon her chicken fricassee recipe. At first this was just cause for further turning of the page (I had made this dish a number of times, and while delicious wasn’t quite exciting enough to inspire me off the couch), when I noticed in the variations section following the recipe a variation involving curry powder. That was the only change made to the recipe, add curry powder. While this still was no giant couch spatula, it did inspire me to sit up and start drafting.

I feel it necessary, albeit ashamedly so, to admit that until recently I had an aversion to curry and maybe even avoided trying it. I had always associated curry with the terrible smell it has as it leaks out of the pores of people who overuse it in their diet, or the pungent traces of it baked into the wall boards of an apartment that has never had a dish prepared without it. Thus, against all of my foodie instincts, I avoided curry dishes. Only recently have I started to branch out into this fantastically flavorful branch of eating, and decided after the simple suggestion in Julia to take my venturing one step further and make my first curry dish.

After a good amount of time of drooling over the prospects, I settled into a recipe idea, and figured… I might as well see where it goes and if it sucks we get sushi.

So here it is, and by the way… no sushi was ordered this night:

Curry Chicken Fricassee:

Curry Chicken Fricassee

1/4 c. butter

1/2 c. spanish onion, thinly sliced

1/2 c. red bell pepper, roughly diced

1/2 c. carrot, thinly sliced rounds

1/2 tsp white pepper

1/2 tsp Lowry’s

1 frying chicken, cut up, skinned, ribs spine and breastbone removed (can be substituted with 3-4 lbs boneless skinless breasts of thighs)

2 tbs curry powder

1/4 c. flour

1 28 oz can whole peeled tomatoes, hand crushed

2 c. chicken stock

5-6 dried red chili peppers

2 c. pearl onions, skin removed

3 c. baby spinach, stemmed

1 tbs garlic, minced

1/2 c. coconut milk

Heat a large casserole, enameled dutch oven, or other fireproof covered dish large enough to hold the chicken in one layer over medium heat and melt 4 tbs of butter in the casserole.  Add the sliced onions, red bell peppers, carrots, white pepper and Lowry’s to the pan and slowly cook until carrots and peppers have softened but not colored.  Remove from casserole.

Add 4 tbs of butter to the pan and increase heat slightly.  Place chicken in a single layer and flip every minute for 5-6 minutes until the chicken has firmed slightly and the meat is a golden yellow.  Coat both sides of the chicken with the 2 tbs of curry powder, lower heat, cover and cook for 10 minutes flipping halfway through.

While chicken is cooking, place stock and tomatoes in a saucepan and bring to a simmer.

Coat both sides of the chicken with flour and roll in butter to coat flour with cooking juices and butter.  Cover and cook for an additional 5 minutes flipping halfway through.

Remove casserole from heat, add vegetables back to the dish, hot peppers, and pour tomato/stock mixture into the casserole to just cover the chicken.  Shake casserole to thoroughly mix liquid and flour mixture.  Return to heat and bring to a slow simmer. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes.

While chicken is cooking place pearl onions in a covered pan with the remaining stock/tomato mixture and bring to a boil. Cover and cook while chicken cooks, shaking occasionally to prevent burning.

Just before chicken is done, saute garlic in butter for 1-2 minutes, add spinach, stir, cover and cook 2-3 minutes until spinach is wilted. Remove from heat and set aside.

After 30 minutes, check the chicken for doneness and remove from casserole (tent foil over chicken to keep warm.)

Bring sauce to a simmer in casserole, scraping up all the good stuff on the bottom and reduce to half of the original volume or until sauce has thickened nicely.  Add pearl onions, spinach and 1/2 cup of coconut milk and simmer for 5-10 minutes longer.

Pour sauce over chicken and serve with rice.

And as always… Enjoy!

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