Weekly Winner:  Perusing Persia through seriously yellow chicken

I don’t think I’ve ever made a recipe from Persia.  Heck, I’m not even sure I’ve ever eaten Persian food before finding this recipe last week.

Persian Chicken with Turmeric and Lime caught my eye for several reasons.  First of all that color!  I mean that is sunshiny-yellow chicken with some seriously verdant green toppings.  It’s beautiful, right?? Then looking at the list of ingredients it had lots of the things I’ve grown to love:  white rice, warm spices such as cinnamon, cardamom and turmeric, yogurt, and nuts.  And not just any nuts but pistachios which easily make the list of my top three all-time favorite nuts.  

This dish was exotic and familiar at the same time.  There’s nothing more cozy to me than a bowl of chicken and rice and that’s exactly what this dish is, but it’s also so much more.  The spice mix in the rice alone elevate the lowly basmati rice to something incredible and the hit of the turmeric on the chicken really make this dish unique.  Its spicy without being at all hot.

This perfect “getaway in a bowl” comes from Epicurious and while the list of ingredients might seem daunting, it is really quite easy and quick to prepare.  One word of warning however:  if you’re like me and use your hands to rub herbs, marinades and seasonings on meat, you will (as I did) have yellow fingernails for about 3 days after making this! That turmeric is serious stuff!

Persian Chicken with Turmeric and Lime

Serves 4

Ingredients:

1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs or breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces

• 1 medium onion, halved, thinly sliced

• 2 teaspoons ground turmeric

• 3 large garlic cloves, finely chopped, plus 1 garlic clove, smashed

• 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice, plus 8 wedges for serving (3–4 limes total)

• 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided

• 2 1/4 teaspoons ground cumin, divided

• 1 3/4 teaspoons kosher salt, divided, plus more

• 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided

• 1 cup basmati rice

• 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom

• 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

• 1 cup plain yogurt (optional)

• 1 English hothouse or large standard cucumber, peeled if desired, quartered lengthwise, cut crosswise into 1/2″ pieces (about 2 cups)

• 1 cup (packed) herb leaves, such as mint, cilantro, and/or dill (I used mint, parsley, and basil)

• 1/3 cup shelled unsalted pistachios, coarsely chopped

• Sumac (for serving; optional)

Procedure:

Mix chicken, onion, turmeric, chopped garlic, lime juice, 1 Tbsp. oil, 2 tsp. cumin, 1 tsp. salt, and 3/4 tsp. pepper in a medium bowl.

Heat 1 Tbsp. oil over medium in a heavy medium saucepan. Add rice and smashed garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until lightly toasted and fragrant, 1–2 minutes. Stir in cardamom, cinnamon, 1/4 tsp. salt, and remaining 1/4 tsp. cumin and 1/4 tsp. pepper. Add 1 3/4 cups water and bring to a boil, then reduce heat and gently simmer, covered, until water is evaporated and rice is cooked, 18–20 minutes. Remove from heat. Let sit, covered, until ready to serve.

Meanwhile, heat remaining 1 Tbsp. oil over medium-high in a large skillet until very hot but not smoking. Add chicken mixture and cook, stirring occasionally, until chicken is cooked through, 6–8 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in yogurt, if using, then adjust seasoning to taste. Cover to keep warm.

Gently toss cucumber, herbs, and remaining 1/4 tsp. salt in a small bowl.

Fluff rice with a fork and divide among bowls. Spoon chicken over. Top with cucumber salad, pistachios, and sumac, if using. Generously squeeze lime wedges over

Weekly Winner:  Turmeric Turns Pork Chops into Tantalizing Treat.

OK, seriously, when aren’t pork chops tantalizing??  They are, without hesitation, my favorite piece of meat.  When cooked properly nothing can beat it. For some reason, I just haven’t made them much lately and when the hankering took hold over the weekend, I went looking for a new twist on my old favorite.

Turmeric Pork Chops with Green Onion Rice was just what I was looking for.  The dry rub and glaze makes these chops tangy, sticky, and dang delicious.  And with all the touted health benefits of turmeric, and the fact that the recipe comes from Cooking Light, you could make the argument that this is one healthy, life-extending dish. You could make that argument, but you probably wouldn’t win it.  What you will win is an excellent quick, easy, tasty meal.

Turmeric Pork Chops with Green Onion Rice

Serves 4

Ingredients:

4 (6-oz.) bone-in pork chops

1 large garlic clove, halved

1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, divided

1/2 teaspoon black pepper, divided

3 tablespoons olive oil, divided

1 tablespoon fish sauce

2 teaspoons oyster sauce

1 teaspoon tomato paste

1 bunch green onions

2 (8.8-oz.) packages precooked brown rice (such as Uncle Ben’s)

1 lime, cut into 4 wedges

Procedure:

1. Heat a grill pan over medium-high. Rub pork with cut sides of garlic; discard garlic. Sprinkle pork with turmeric, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Combine 2 tablespoons oil, fish sauce, oyster sauce, and tomato paste. Brush both sides of pork with half of oil mixture. Add pork to pan; grill 4 minutes on each side or until desired degree of doneness. Transfer to a plate; brush both sides of pork with remaining oil mixture. Keep warm.

2. Add onions to grill pan over medium-high; grill 2 minutes. Coarsely chop onions.

3. Heat rice according to package directions. Combine green onions, rice, remaining 1 tablespoon oil, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Serve rice with pork. Serve with lime wedges.

Weekly Winner:  There Will Be No More Coleslaw in this House

Its true.  I don’t see myself ever making your standard, everyday coleslaw again.  Not that I have anything against coleslaw, but after trying this carrot slaw I will never consider coleslaw an acceptable side dish.  This Turmeric-Curried Golden Carrot Slaw is worlds better in so many ways.  Healthier, more unique, more colorful (yes, that matters) and most importantly, it is far more interesting. It made the perfect accompaniment to some simple roasted salmon filets.

The recipe was actually sent to me by a client asking me to make it for her.  After tasting it the first time, I knew It would become a staple for me.  The original recipe comes from the blog HappyHealthyLife.com.

It is, in a word, “craveable”. Sweet, spicy, crunchy, creamy – it has it all.  The only change I made this time was to replace the sunflower seeds with roasted pistachios.  I liked it even better.

The only time I can see me reverting back to coleslaw is when I make pulled pork sandwiches — although, now that I think about it, this carrot slaw might just work on that as well!

Turmeric-Curried Golden Carrot Slaw

Ingredients:

1-1/2 cups shredded carrots

1-1/2 Tbsp maple syrup

2-3 Tbsp tahini

1/2 cup raisins

1 tsp curry powder

1 tsp turmeric powder

2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar

Pinch of salt and pepper

1/4 cup sunflower seeds or roasted pistachios

Instructions:

Add all ingredients to a large mixing bowl.

Toss salad for 2-3 minutes to completely infuse carrots with all the spices and flavorings.