Braised Tunisian Chicken Thighs

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This is an easy recipe for braised chicken thighs with Tunisian flavors, courtesy of Los Angeles, California chefs, Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo for Plated.com.

I made this dish for a second time with a variation to original recipe. I used skin-on, bone-in thighs and chicken drumsticks instead of skinless chicken thighs. Why? Well, you will get a better sear and slightly deeper flavor with the skin still. Using skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs will also increase the cooking time and always be sure to check that your chicken is for completely cooked at the proper temperature by using a meat thermometer.

This dish is best served with couscous or steamed white rice.

Serves 2

Ingredients:
For Spice Mix 1:
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons sweet paprika
1 teaspoon caraway seeds
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 tablespoon whole cumin seeds

For Spice Mix 2:
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon ancho chili powder
1 teaspoon chipotle chili powder
1 teaspoon harissa paste
1/8 teaspoon ground coriander
1/8 teaspoon caraway seeds
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon

For the Chicken:
4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 fresh Thai chile, halved lengthwise, seeds discarded,minced
4 tablespoons olive oil
Kosher salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 large yellow onion, halved and thinly sliced
One 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes, preferably San Marzanos, crushed by hand

Directions:
To make Spice Mix 1:In a small bowl, combine the cinnamon, paprika, caraway, coriander, and cumin. Stir everything together and set aside.

To make Spice Mix 2:In a small bowl, combine the turmeric, chile powders, coriander, caraway, and cinnamon. Stir everything together and set aside.

To marinate the chicken:Rinse the chicken, pat it dry with paper towels, and arrange the pieces on a large plate. In a small bowl, combine Spice Mix 1, the garlic, Thai chile, and 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Coat the chicken with this mixture, rubbing it in thoroughly. Allow the chicken to marinate for 10 minutes at room temperature, or overnight in the fridge, covered with plastic wrap.

To cook:
Heat the oven to 400°F and arrange a rack in the middle. Season the chicken thighs all over with salt and pepper. Over medium-high heat, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed sauté pan with high sides and a tight fitting lid. When the oil is shimmering, add the chicken and sear on the first side, 2 to 3 minutes. Using tongs, flip the pieces and sear on the other side, 2 to 3 minutes more. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Reduce the heat to medium and add the onion and Spice Mix 2 to the same pan in which you seared the chicken. Sauté until the onion is very soft and translucent, about 7 minutes. Add the tomatoes and stir to combine. Raise the heat to medium-high and bring to a simmer.

Add the reserved chicken to the simmering tomatoes, nestling the pieces into the sauce. Cover the pan and transfer to the oven. Braise until the chicken is tender and cooked through, about 10 minutes.

To serve:

Taste the braising liquid and add additional salt and pepper as needed. Divide the chicken and sauce evenly between two warmed, shallow bowls and serve.

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New Year, New Food Trends

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With the New Year settling in,  we are still mindful in 2018 of eating healthy and exploring global foods. As consumers, we are  constantly selecting better ingredients to improve our health and wellness and to make positive changes, as a lifestyle and not a resolution.

So, we have highlighted some of the top trending foods and spices for 2018 that you can find in your local grocery stores and supermarkets that you can incorporate into your daily diet for the coming year.

 

 

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Matcha :

If you never heard of matcha, the know that it is a finely ground, velvety powder made from nutrient rich green tea leaves. It has a variety of antioxidants and may increase metabolism and physical endurance.
How to use it: Add it to baked goods, like cupcakes or cookies or just stir a teaspoonful into a fruit smoothie or a stir into a glass of water. You can also combine with a good quality sea salt and sprinkle over popcorn.

Sorghum:

Domesticated from the continent of Africa over 8,000 years ago, sorghum is ancient whole grain that resembles Israeli couscous. Sorghum has a nutty flavor and can supply  fiber, potassium, iron and protein to your diet. And another bonus is that sorghum is gluten free.
How to use it: Sorghum grains can be prepared like brown rice, quinoa or other whole grains as a side dish. You can also use it as the base for sweet or savory grain bowls or you can try popping it just like whole kernel corn to make popcorn.

Hemp Seeds:

Hemp seeds can supply a high quality plant-based protein to you diet,with a healthy dose of fiber, iron, magnesium and omega 3 fatty acids. For some people they have a taste that is similar to a cross between a sunflower seed and a pine nut.

How to use it: Sprinkle hemp seeds on salads or avocado toast for that extra crunch. You can also add them to smoothies, homemade granola bars, or even to veggie burgers. Hemp seeds is also an excellent substitute for pine nuts used in making a vegan pesto.

 

Beef Bone Broth:

For the record, bone broth is nothing new, but being rediscovered by chefs serving it in trendy restaurants. In Chinese medicine, whose origins date back over 2,500 years, bone broth is used to support digestive health, as a blood builder, and to strengthen the kidneys.  Cultures far and wide have nourished their families with bone broths and handmade stocks throughout history .Broth made from beef bones is rich in minerals that support the immune system and contains healing compounds like collagen, glutamine, glycine and proline. The collagen in bone broth heals your gut lining and reduces intestinal inflammation.
How to use it: When herbs, spices and vegetables are added, a rich flavor develops and it can be simply warmed and sipped or used in other recipes as a base for soups or gravy and sauces.

Cauliflower:

 
An extremely versatile vegetable that has found it’s way in various healthy dishes, rather than being relegated to a boring accompaniment to the family meal. Like it’s relative, green broccoli, it supplies an impressive amounts of vitamins and minerals such as B6, C, K, folate and potassium as well as fiber and powerful antioxidants and phytochemicals as it comes in a variety of colors such are purple and yellow gold.
How to use it: Like magic, you can transform cauliflower into rice with a box grater or a food processor. You can even make cauliflower pizza crust or use it in a fried rice recipe. Cauliflower can also be used a substitute for potatoes, where the cauliflower is cooked and mashed. If you have large heads of cauliflower, always think about slicing them 3/4 inch thick and grill them like beef steaks for a meatless Monday meal.

Tumeric:

Turmeric is a plant that is native to Southeast Asia and in powdered form, it  has been used for 4,000 years to treat a variety of conditions. Studies show that turmeric may help fight infections and some cancers, reduce inflammation, and treat digestive problems. As a spice, it adds an earthy flavor and brightness to almost any dish.
 
How to use it: Tumeric is best pared with spices and herbs that have complementary flavor profiles, such as cinnamon, ground black pepper and ginger. You can also use it as a natural coloring agent to enhance orange vegetables like pumpkin, squash,  sweet potatoes and carrots, just to  name a few.

Avocado Oil:

 Avocado oil is popping up as an ingredient in many healthy foods. Given it’s versatility, most people love it for its mild flavor in cooking and lack of scent in organic beauty products.

Because it is light and rich in flavor, low in saturated fat and high in monounsaturated fat, it has become a healthy alternative . Avocado oil is nutrient dense and is rich in vitamins A, K and D as well as potassium and antioxidants which are crucial in maintaining a healthy heart.

How to use it: In baking, you can substitute the butter for the avocado oil. You can also drizzle it over popcorn. Because it is so closely resembling olive oil, as a cooking oil, you can  use it to saute or fry vegetables.

Hello Friends!

All photographs and content, excepted where noted, are copyright protected. Please do not use these photos without prior written permission. If you wish to republish this photograph and all other contents, then we kindly ask that you link back to this site. We are eternally grateful and we appreciate your support of this blog.

Thank you so much!

 

 

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Jerk Chicken with Coconut Saffron Rice and Black Beans

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The best jerk recipe I have ever tasted, delighted the senses, as it was fragrant, fiery hot and smoky all at once.The original recipe was developed by Paul Chung, an adventurous self-taught cook who grew up in Jamaica and has sampled jerk from just about every corner of the island. Making a few adjustments, I added  fresh ginger, dark brown sugar and apple cider vinegar to the marinade. For best results and maximum flavor, let the chicken marinate overnight, covered, in the refrigerator.

As side dishes goes, this saffron rice recipe cooks up pretty quickly, making it a great dish if you are in a hurry. Another added bonus is that is one of those rare dishes that gluten free and vegan. However, if you are allergic to coconut milk, soy milk is a suitable substitute.

Serves 8

Ingredients:
For the Chicken:
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
3 medium scallions, chopped
2-3 Scotch bonnet chili peppers, stems removed, chopped (or Habaneros)
2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and coarsely chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tablespoon five-spice powder
1 tablespoon allspice berries, coarsely ground
1 tablespoon coarsely ground pepper
1 teaspoon dried thyme, crumbled
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon white or apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
Two 3 1/2- to 4-pound chickens, quartered

For the Saffron Coconut Rice and Beans:
1/4 teaspoon saffron threads
1 tablespoon plain water,at room temperature
2 cups uncooked white basmati rice (or any long grain rice)
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1 shallot, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 3/4 cup coconut milk
2 cups water
1 teaspoon agave nectar, (or 1/2 teaspoon of sugar)
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
a pinch of ground nutmeg
One 15-ounce can of black beans, rinsed and drained
Lime wedges, for garnish

Special Equipment:
Latex gloves for handling the chilis and massaging the marinade under the chicken skin.

Directions:
For the chicken start preparing it a day or two ahead of actual cooking.

Pat chicken dry with paper towels.In a food processor, combine the onion, scallions, chiles, ginger, garlic, five-spice powder, allspice, black pepper, thyme, nutmeg, salt and brown sugar; process to a coarse paste. With the machine on, add the the soy sauce and oil in a steady stream. Put on latex gloves and pour the marinade into a large, shallow dish. Slather the marinade all over chicken, including under skin, and turn to coat. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Bring the chicken to room temperature before cooking and lightly sprinkle with more salt and ground allspice, before proceeding.

Prepare a charcoal grill: Clean and oil grates.Light a grill and preheat to medium heat using one chimney of charcoal. The temperature can start as high as 300°F. For best results, coals should be at least 12 inches away from chicken. If necessary, push coals to one side of grill to create indirect heat. Add two large handfuls of soaked pimento (allspice) wood sticks and chips (See Cook’s Notes) or other aromatic wood chips to coals, then close grill. When thick white smoke billows from grill, place chicken on grate, skin side up, and cover. Let cook undisturbed for 35 to 45 minutes.

Uncover the grill. The chicken will be golden and mahogany in some spots. Chicken thighs may already be cooked through. For other cuts, turn chicken over and add more wood chips, and charcoal as needed. Cover and continue cooking, checking and turning every 10 minutes. Jerk chicken is done when skin is burnished brown and chicken juices are completely clear, with no pink near the bone. For large pieces, this can take up to an hour.

While chicken is cooking, begin to prepare the rice.

In a small bowl, soak saffron threads in the water, at room temperature, for 5 minutes and set aside.

In a large saucepan, heat peanut oil over a medium heat until it begins to shimmer, about 2 minutes. Stir in chopped shallot and garlic, and cook until soft, about 3 minutes. Stir in rice, mixing with a wooden spoon until all of the grains are coated with peanut oil. Fry for 1 minute, stirring constantly.Gently stir in the coconut milk, water, saffron mixture, agave or sugar, turmeric, cumin taking care as the oil will splatter. Season with salt, and gently stir, making sure that nothing sticks to the bottom while everything comes to a boil.

Once liquid achieves a boil, reduce heat to low. Place lid on pot, slightly askew to allow some steam to escape. Stir occasionally to make sure rice does not stick to bottom of pan and the sugar in the coconut milk does not burn. Allow to simmer *very* gently for 15-20 minutes, or until rice is tender.

Stir in the black beans and cook for a few minutes more until hot. Remove from heat and cover the saucepan. Allow to stand for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork when you are ready to serve.

When the chicken is done, transfer to a platter.Garnish with lime wedges and serve with the rice.

Cook’s Notes:
Pimento wood sticks and chips are available at www.pimentowood.com.

Alternatively you bake the chicken in the oven if a grill is not readily available.After marinating and you are ready to cook the chicken, heat oven to 350°F and bake chicken for 45-55 minutes, until done.

Also, if time is of the essence, you can first bake the chicken at 300°F in the oven then finished off on the grill. This will result in crispy skin, with perfect texture and flavor.

All photographs and content, except where noted, are copyright protected. Please do not use these photos without prior written permission. If you wish to republish this photograph and all other contents, then we kindly ask that you link back to this site. We are eternally grateful and we appreciate your support of this blog.

Thank you so much!

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