Weekly Winner: Holy Mole! This is tasty chicken!

Mole ChickenI know, I know…. cheesy headline.  But seriously this is tasty… and it is a mole.  I really had no choice.

Normally, I would not attempt to make any type of mole unless I had a Mexican grandmother’s handed down recipe to follow.  Seeing as though almost all of my heritage and ancestors are German — no such luck.  But with this slow-cooker recipe, basically if you can cut things up and operate a blender… you can have a fairly impressive mole dish.  The recipe comes from Everyday Food.  I took the serving suggestion on the magazine’s picture and served it with rice mixed with peas.  The sweetness of the peas really stood out with the flavorful, spicy mole sauce.

Slow-Cooker Chicken Mole

Serves 6

Ingredients:

4 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 12)

1 can (28 ounces) whole tomatoes

1 medium yellow onion, roughly chopped

2 dried ancho chiles, stemmed

1 large chipotle chile in adobo sauce

1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted

1/4 cup raisins

3 oz bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped (1/2 cup)

3 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled

3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

3/4 tsp ground cumin

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

Season chicken thighs with salt and place in a 5-6 quart slow cooker.  In a blender,  puree tomatoes, onion, ancho and chipotle chiles, almonds, raisins, chocolate, garlic, oil, cumin, and cinnamon until smooth.  Add tomato mixture to slow cooker, cover and cook on high until chicken is tender, 4 hours (or 8 hours on low).

Weekly Winner: Butterflied, Poked & Drunk!

I realize I have already posted a recipe for the best grilled chicken recipe ever.  And I know I said I would throw away all other recipes for any grilled chicken because there was no way they could compete.  Well, it’s not quite as good as the Best Ever Grilled Chicken, but it is very, very close.

This week’s Weekly Winner comes to us from Cook’s Country Magazine.  I swear if they had a recipe for sautéed cardboard, it would be good and I’d try it.  It’s Grilled Wine-and-Herb-Marinated Chicken, and regardless of what I claimed before … it’s a keeper!

Grilled Wine-and-Herb-Marinated Chicken

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups dry white wine
  • 3 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 Tbsp chopped fresh thyme
  • 2 Tbsp packed light brown sugar
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 2 Tbsp salt
  • 1 (4-pound) whole chicken, butterflied

Procedure:

  1. Process wine, lemon juice, oil, parsley, thyme, sugar, garlic and pepper in blender until emulsified, about 40 seconds.  Reserve 1/4 cup marinade.  Add salt to remaining mixture in blender and process to dissolve, about 20 seconds.
  2. Poke holes all over chicken with skewer.  Place chicken in large zippered storage bag, pour in salted marinade, seal bag, and turn to coat.  Set bag in baking dish, breast side down, and refrigerate for 2 to 3 hours.
  3. For gas grill:  Turn all burners to high, cover, and heat grill until hot, about 15 minutes.  Turn secondary burners to low and primary burner to medium. (Adjust primary burner as needed to maintain grill temperature between 350 and 375 degrees.)
  4. Remove chicken from marinade and pat dry with paper towels.  Discard used marinade.  Clean and oil cooking grate.  Place chicken skin side down over cooler part of grill with legs closest to hotter side. Cover and cook until chicken is well browned and thigh meat registers 160 degrees, 50 to 65 minutes.  Brush chicken with half of reserved marinade.  Flip chicken, move it to hot side of grill, and brush with remaining half of reserved marinade.  Cook, covered, until breasts register 160 degrees and thighs register 175 degrees, 10 to 15 minutes longer.
  5. Transfer chicken to cutting board, tent loosely with aluminum foil, and let rest for 15 minutes.  Carve and serve.

Weekly Winner: Oooey Gooey Cheesy Mexican Goodness

I know, I know… it has been more than a week since my last post.  But honestly, once you declare something “The Best Thing You’ve Ever Made”, it’s kind of hard to know where to go from there.

Thankfully, the most recent issue of Saveur Magazine arrived about that time and was dedicated to Mexican cuisine.  It just so happens that  I have a Mexican food-obsessed husband, so I practically tore out every recipe in the issue.  This recipe for Enchiladas Suizas was the first one I tried.  It was fabulous.  Relatively easy and straightforward.  The only changes I made were with the chiles.  I got the poblanos from our Green City Market and well, let’s just say they are not your average run-of-the-mill grocery store chiles.  Luckily I tried them long before adding them to the recipe and wound up only adding about a third of the amount.  I also halved the serranos just to be sure.  The sauce had a great zing to it and a nice heat level without blowing our heads off.  The recipe here is as it was written.  If you’re brave — follow it to the letter.

Also, a brief note on the pictures.  The first one came from the magazine.  It is much prettier and gives you a better idea of what the dish should look like.  The second is the reality shot of my enchiladas right out of the oven.  Just as tasty — not as pretty.

ENCHILADAS SUIZAS

Serves  4–6

INGREDIENTS

1 ½ lb. tomatillos, husks removed, rinsed

2 serrano chiles, stemmed
1 cup roughly chopped cilantro
1 cup sour cream
½ tsp. cumin seeds, toasted
4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
2 poblano chiles, roasted, peeled, seeded, and roughly chopped
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 cup canola oil
8 6″ corn tortillas
3 cups cooked shredded chicken
1 ½ cups shredded queso Oaxaca or mozzarella

INSTRUCTIONS

1. Arrange an oven rack 4″ from the broiler and heat broiler to high. Place tomatillos and serranos on a foil-lined baking sheet and broil, turning as needed, until blackened all over, about 10 minutes. Let cool for about 10 minutes, and then peel and discard skins. Transfer to a blender along with cilantro, sour cream, cumin, garlic, poblanos, and 1 cup boiling water; season with salt and pepper, and purée until smooth. Set enchilada sauce aside.

2. Heat oil in a 12″ skillet over medium-high heat. Working in batches, grasp tortillas with tongs and fry in oil until pliable, about 1 minute. Transfer tortillas to a work surface. Place chicken in a bowl and toss with 1 cup enchilada sauce until evenly coated. Divide sauced chicken evenly among tortillas, and roll tortillas tightly around chicken. Pour about 1 cup enchilada sauce in the bottom of a 9″ x 13″ baking dish, and place tortilla rolls in dish, seam side down, creating one row down the center of the dish. Pour remaining enchilada sauce over rolls, and cover evenly with cheese.

3. Heat oven to 375°. Bake enchiladas until sauce is bubbling and cheese is melted on top, 25 minutes. Remove from oven, and let cool for 10 minutes. Serve with plenty of sauce.

Weekly Winner – Reigning Champ Since 2006

Who doesn’t like a good Chinese chicken salad?  I know I do.  This one’s name may sound like hype, but trust me – it’s true.  This honestly is the Best-Ever Chinese Chicken Salad!

I know I’ve loved this particular recipe and realize that I’ve been making it for quite some time.  I had no idea till I looked at the recipe that I had cut it out way back in 2006.  It is sensational and remains in very high rotation on my menus.  That is quite a feat in itself since I tend to tire of things and purge recipes that start looking a bit rough around the edges.  But I don’t think I’ll ever get rid of this one.  It is one of the few salads that I crave.  The recipe came from Sunset Magazine and I have made a few tweaks here and there which I have noted in the recipe.  My alterations make it a bit quicker and easier to prepare, and therefore a snap to whip up whenever the craving strikes… as it did this week.  Enjoy!

Best-Ever Chinese Chicken Salad

Serves 6-8

For the salad:

1/2 pound asparagus, trimmed and cut diagonally into 1-inch pieces

11 oz can mandarin oranges

6 cups pre-packaged cole slaw mix

2 cups cubed cooked chicken

Spicy soy-ginger dressing (recipe follows)

1 large avocado, cubed

4 green onions (including green tops), sliced diagonally

2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds

Chow mein noodles

Spicy Soy-Ginger Dressing:

In a medium bowl, whisk together 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar, 2 tablespoons brown sugar, 1-1/2  tablespoons soy sauce, 1 tablespoon Asian red chile sauce (such as Sriracha), and 1-1/2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger. Slowly drizzle in 1/4 cup vegetable oil or grapeseed oil, whisking constantly. Season with salt to taste.

Preparation

  1. 1. In a 2- to 3-quart pan over high heat, bring about 1 quart water to a boil. Add asparagus and cook until crisp-tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Drain, then plunge asparagus into ice water to stop the cooking. Drain and set aside.
  2. In a large serving bowl, toss the cabbage, chicken, and asparagus with the dressing. Top with avocado, oranges, and chow mein noodles, then garnish with green onions and sesame seeds.

Weekly Winner – Best Ever Grilled Chicken

I was able to purge quite a lot of my chicken recipes this week.  Basically, if it was a recipe for any kind of chicken on the grill, it was trashed.  Once I discovered this week’s Weekly Winner – Cornell Chicken –  there was no need for another recipe.  This is the best. Ever.  End of story.  The recipe is from Cook’s Country Magazine and it was straightforward, easy and most of all perfectly delicious.  And now I have lots of room in my chicken recipe binder for yet more experiments not done on the grill.

CORNELL CHICKEN

Serves 4 – 6

For the Chicken:

2 quarts water

3-1/2 cups cider vinegar

¼ cup Kosher salt

4 half chickens (or 2 whole chickens, spatchcocked and cut in half)

For the seasoning and sauce:

1 Tbsp poultry seasoning

Salt and pepper

½ cup cider vinegar

3 Tbsp Dijon mustard

1 Tbsp chopped fresh sage

1 Tbsp chopped fresh rosemary

½ cup olive oil

Instructions:

  1. For the Chicken:  Whisk water, vinegar, and salt in a large bowl until salt dissolves.  Add chicken and refrigerate, covered, for 1 to 2 hours.
  2. For the Seasoning and Sauce:  Combine poultry seasoning, 2 teaspoons salt, and 2 teaspoons pepper in small bowl; set aside.  Process vinegar, mustard, sage, rosemary, ½ teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon pepper in blender until smooth, about 1 minute.  With blender running, slowly add oil until incorporated.  Transfer vinegar sauce to small bowl and reserve for basting chicken in step 4.
  3. Heat all burners on high for 15 minutes, then turn all burners to medium-low (For charcoal grill, light 75 coals; when covered with fine gray ash, spread evenly over bottom of grill.  Set cooking grate in place and heat covered, with lid vents open completely, for 5 minutes.)  Scrape and oil cooking grate.
  4. Remove chicken from brine.  Pat dry with paper towels and rub all over with poultry seasoning mixture.  Arrange chicken skin side up on grill and baste with vinegar sauce.  Grill, covered, until chicken is well browned on bottom and meat registers 120 degrees, 25-30 minutes, basting with sauce halfway through cooking.  Flip chicken skin side down and baste with sauce.  Continue to grill, covered, until skin is golden brown and crisp and thigh meat registers 170-175 degrees, 20-25 minutes longer.  Transfer chicken to platter (do not cover) and let rest 5 minutes.  Serve.

The Salad Stands Alone

I made this salad for the first time a couple of weeks ago and it made me very happy.  My husband and I each took our first bite and sat back and said “Wow!  This is better than it should be!”  This was definitely a case of the final product being surprisingly better than the sum of its parts.  Now, understand… my husband is totally not a “salad” guy…. and the fact that we had a lovely grilled steak with this and he even noticed the salad speaks volumes.

The original recipe comes from Eating Well magazine and is designed to have the sliced steak served on top.  As I said, we did do that the first time, but this salad is definitely tasty enough to stand on its own.  As a matter of fact, I made the salad, sans steak, last weekend for Easter dinner with friends.

Spinach Blueberry Salad  – serves 4

1 cup fresh blueberries, divided

1/2 cup chopped walnuts, toasted

3 Tbsp fruity vinegar (I used a raspberry vinegar)

1 Tbsp minced shallot

1 tsp sugar

1/4 tsp salt

3 Tbsp walnut oil or canola oil (I used walnut)

8 cups baby spinach

1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese

Pulse 1/4 cup blueberries, 1/4 cup walnuts, vinegar, shallot, sugar and salt in a food processor to form a chunky paste.  With motor running, add oil until incorporated.  Transfer the dressing to a large bowl.

Add spinach to the bowl with the dressing and toss to coat. Divide the spinach among the 4 plates.  Top the spinach with feta and remaining walnuts and blueberries.  Enjoy!