Stir-Fry Sichuan Black Pepper Chicken


Stir-Fry Sichuan Black Pepper Chicken | Culinary Compost Recipes

With the onset of COVID-19, I haven’t been as creative in the kitchen, invariably because of the need to go to the supermarket for daily meal prep. I’m simply not going to risk my family’s health by running out for a few odd items I forgot on my shopping list. As a more “efficient” strategy, I’ll make a large list and stock up on items that can be flipped into multiple dishes throughout the week. (And my wry observation regarding that strategy is that you are still exposing yourself to more time in the supermarket during that outing.) Alright, enough with that crap. In these uncertain times, cooking and reading are two of my outlets, both intellectually and creatively, and I’ve found if I can create one or two really great meals in any given week, it’s a great way to keep my sanity, while cooking in the Culinary Compost bunker.

The recipe shown here is one of my hands-down favorites at any Chinese restaurant. The spices are simple — fresh ground black pepper and Sichuan peppercorns. That’s it. You can also make this with beef and change out the vegetables per your preference. The first time i made this, the taste was a bit flat. Rice vinegar will correct that issue. Finally, through trial and experimentation, I’ve learned to limit my umami/salty ingredients to THREE tablespoons total in any combination. All Asian sauce ingredients shown here are very salty and they can quickly ruin your meal if not used in moderation. Enjoy—


INGREDIENTS:

For the Chicken Marinade~
1 large boneless, skinless chicken breast, sliced into 1/2 x 1-inch pieces
1/4 cup corn starch
1 tbs. Shaoxing cooking wine
1 tbs. Tamari soy sauce

For the Aromatics~
1-inch chunk of ginger, peeled and minced
4 large cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1/2 large shallot, peeled and finely sliced

For the Sauce~
2 tbs. oyster sauce
1 tbs. black soy sauce
1 tbs. fresh-ground coarse black pepper
1/2 tsp. fresh-ground Sichuan pepper (optional)
1 tbs. rice wine vinegar

1 cup chicken stock
1 tsp. corn starch with 1 tbs. cold water mixed in separate dish

For the Vegetables~
1 red bell pepper, cored and cut into 1.5-inch trapezoids
1/2 red onion, coarsely sliced into 1.5-inch chunks
2 large carrots, peeled and cut into 3/8-inch planks at a bias
2 large scallion, trimmed and cut into 1-inch chunks at a bias (include both white and green parts)

Serve with your choice of jasmine white rice or asian noodles


DIRECTIONS:

Cut, prep and measure all of your ingredients and keep them at hand so you are ready. Wok cooking is very fast and only takes a few minutes.

1 hour prior to cooking, cut up the chicken pieces and place in a mixing bowl with the corn starch, Shaoxing wine and Tamari soy sauce. Mix well and set aside.

For the sauce ingredients, measure the first 5 ingredients and set aside in a small mixing bowl. Measure and set aside the chicken stock. In a separate small bowl, whisk together the corn starch and cold water.

Cut and prep the vegetables, leaving the scallion in a separate bowl. (You will add it last so it doesn’t wilt.)

Choose either rice or noodles and cook according to package directions. While this is cooking, preheat the wok until it starts to smoke. It is ready when a drop of cold water sizzles on contact. Swirl in 4 tbs. canola or peanut oil. Allow to shimmer. When hot, using a tongs or chopsticks, quickly shake off and place the chicken pieces evenly in the wok. Let sear 2 minutes, then flip using a wok shovel. Continue to sear for another 2 minutes. Cook until slightly crispy and golden. Remove and transfer to a clean plate.

Next, add 1 tbs. oil to the wok and add the aromatics, including the ginger, garlic and shallot. Quickly stir fry for 30 seconds until fragrant. Add the vegetables except for the scallion. Stir-fry for an additional 3-4 minutes until slightly charred.

Add the reserved sauce ingredients containing the oyster sauce, black soy sauce, ground black and Sichuan pepper and rice vinegar. Allow it to come to a boil and quickly continue to stir fry, about 30 seconds.
Add the chicken stock and the corn starch mixture. Stir and allow it to come to a rolling boil – reduce about one minute.

Quickly add the reserved chicken back to the wok, stir and add the chopped scallion. Remove from heat and serve immediately to retain the crispness of the vegetables.

Serves 2-4

NOTES: I use a 14-pound cast-iron wok from Lodge. I’ve had great success with this wok due to its even heating and ability to resist extremely high temperatures. With that said, from my experience it’s best used on an outdoor charcoal grill with a large mound of charcoal directly under the wok, set on the grilling grate. If cooking indoors, unless you have a high-output BTU ventilated gas range, you will not be able to achieve the same charred effect, known in Chinese as Wok-Hei, or Breath of the Wok. Intense, high heat is needed for authentic stir fry recipes. Anything else will stew the vegetables and meat instead of flash frying them, leaving you with an undesirable texture. The one exception to this rule concerns Thai curry dishes. I’ve had great success preparing them indoors using this wok, because a reasonably high boiling point is all that is needed.

Lastly, please use the best Asian ingredients you can find. If you skimp on quality, you will taste the difference.

 

Drunken Noodles (Pad Kee Mao)


This is my rendition of a classic dish served at Plia’s Kitchen, a Hmong restaurant in Green Bay, Wisconsin. They serve wonderful South Asian cuisine. The widely-reputed silver bullet for curing a hangover, or just a late-night snack after an all-day bender, this mind-numbingly spicy recipe is a much-loved Chinese-inspired favorite in Thailand.

My wife cannot tolerate anything remotely hot, which is a real shame. To compensate, I improvised this recipe by adding only a seeded jalapeño pepper. For the authentic version, you should use fresh hot Thai red chilis, crushed in a mortar. Thai holy basil is impossible to find in my area – if you are lucky enough to source or grow some, by all means use it — it has an unmistakable peppery, complex flavor that is all but absent in Thai sweet or lemon basil.  Enjoy!

 

INGREDIENTS:

1 large chicken breast
1 tbs. cornstarch
2 tbs. water
1 tsp. dark soy sauce
1/4 tsp. ground white pepper

—-

4 tbs. canola oil, divided
4 large cloves of garlic, crushed in a mortar
1″ chunk of ginger, peeled and grated
4-5 fresh red Thai chilis, stemmed, cut in pieces and crushed in a mortar
OR – one seeded, sliced jalapeño
1 tbs. Laoganma black bean chili sauce
1 medium shallot, peeled and minced
1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1” square sections
1.5 cups fresh Thai holy basil leaves
2 large scallions, trimmed and cut at a bias in 2” sections, with greens
4 oz. rice flake noodles (1/2 8 oz. bag), soaked for one hour and then boiled for two minutes

—-

1 tbs. Shaoxing wine
1 tbs. oyster sauce
1 tbs. fish sauce
1 tbs. dark soy sauce
2 tsp. Tamari soy sauce
1 tsp. Gold Plum® brand Chinkiang vinegar
1 tsp. dark brown sugar
1/2 cup chicken stock

 

DIRECTIONS:

Cut the chicken into small pieces (1/2” to 1”).
In a medium-sized work bowl, combine the cornstarch, water, white pepper and dark soy sauce. Add the chicken and coat well. Set aside for one hour on your counter until it warms to room temperature.

Prepare the rice flake noodles by soaking them in warm water for one hour. Drain, then add to boiling water and cook for 2 minutes. Time them so they are ready to add to the wok after draining.

Prep the vegetables so you have them at hand. Combine the Shaoxing wine, oyster sauce, fish sauce, dark and Tamari soy sauce, Chinkiang vinegar, brown sugar and chicken stock in a small bowl. Mix and set aside.

Heat a wok over high heat and add 2 tbs. canola oil, swirling to coat. The oil should start to smoke. Add the cut chicken pieces and stir with a long-handled Chinese metal spatula. Cook until seared on all sides, about three minutes. Quickly remove from the wok and set aside on a plate.

Add the remaining canola oil and scrape up any bits stuck to the bottom of the wok. Add the crushed garlic, ginger and chilis or jalapeno, and the Laoganma black bean chili sauce.  Stir-fry until fragrant, about a minute. Add the minced shallot and continue to stir for another one to two minutes. Add the bell pepper. Stir to sear the vegetables, and then add the sauce ingredients and the reserved chicken. Stir to coat. Drain and add the boiled rice flake noodles, the fresh basil and scallion. Stir well to coat the noodles and serve immediately.

Serves 2-4.

Mike’s Mesquite-Grilled Chicken Tortilla Soup


Mike's Mesquite-Grilled Chicken Tortilla Soup | Culinary Compost Recipes

This is my original version of a Mexican classic, with a bit of southwest flair infused by New Mexican Hatch chili powder and mesquite wood smoke. As a shortcut, you can fry the chicken in a pan or just boil it before shredding, but why would you want to? Taking the extra time by preparing it on the grill adds an entirely new dimension to this satisfying dish. On a related note, blackening or charring the tomatoes, tomatillos and poblano pepper is essential for the depth of flavor needed — do not skip this step.

I absolutely love this recipe! I hope you do too.


INGREDIENTS:

For the Chicken Marinade~
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
4 large cloves garlic, crushed then minced
1/2 cup fresh-squeezed lime juice (2 limes)
1/2 cup XV olive oil
1 tsp. ground coriander
Kosher salt and fresh-ground black pepper to taste

For the Tortilla Soup~
4 tbs. XV olive oil
32 oz. chicken broth
1 tsp. dry chicken base
4 large cloves crush garlic, minced
2 tbs. pure mild New Mexican Hatch red chili powder
1 tsp. ground Mexican oregano
1 tbs. chipotle en adobo sauce
1 tbs. ground cumin, preferably from toasted seed
4 medium tomatoes, charred (2 10-oz. cans Rotel® fired diced tomatoes may be used as a substitute)
2 large tomatillos, charred and cored
1 large poblano chili, charred and diced
1 medium onion, finely chopped
4 charred six-inch corn tortillas (preferably home-made) cut into 1/2″ pieces
1 14.5 oz. can black beans
Kosher salt and fresh-ground black pepper, to taste

Garnish With~
2 charred six-inch corn tortillas (preferably home-made) cut into 1/4″ strips
2 Haas avocados, cut in 1/2″ strips
Mike’s Mexican Chipotle-Lime Crema
Chopped fresh cilantro
Lime wedges
Thinly-sliced red onion or green scallion
Shredded Mexican Cotija cheese (Nuestro Queso is an excellent brand)

You’ll also need mesquite wood chips for the grill; about 3/4 cup

 

PREPARATION:

The night before, prepare the chicken marinade so the flavor has time to set up. Pound the chicken breasts flat by using a spiked meat mallet. This will ensure that they cook evenly on the grill and allow the wood smoke to penetrate the meat. Place them in a ziplock storage bag. Whisk the marinade ingredients in a bowl and pour in with the chicken. Seal tightly and double bag it using another plastic storage bag to prevent leaks. Refrigerate for at least 12 hours.

The next day, prepare an outdoor charcoal fire on a kettle grill. Use real lump charcoal, not briquettes. Prior to lighting the fire, soak a handful of mesquite chips in a bowl of water for about two hours. You only need a little as the flavor from the mesquite smoke is very intense. Place the soaked chips directly on the white-hot coals.

Grill the chicken over direct heat for about four minutes per side, ensuring that they have a nice crusty char on each side. Remove and let cool on a plate. You need not be concerned if they are a bit underdone. They will continue to cook in the pot in the next step.

While the chicken is cooling, heat a 5-quart cast-iron Dutch oven over medium-low heat. Add the olive oil, onion and garlic. Saute for a few minutes until soft taking care not to scorch the garlic.  Dice the charred tomatoes and tomatillos and add to the pot. Increase the heat to medium, and stir occasionally for another 5 minutes.

Next, add the chicken broth, the New Mexican Hatch chili powder, chicken base, chipotle adobo sauce, Mexican oregano, salt and pepper. Increase the heat and bring to a slow boil. Simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. While the soup is simmering, cut up the charred tortillas and add them to the pot.

Carefully transfer this mixture to a blender and pulse until smooth. Return the ingredients to the pot.

Prepare the poblano pepper by charring it with a propane torch or stovetop gas burner. Dice and add to the pot. Using two forks, shred the chicken and add to the pot.

Drain the canned black beans and rinse in a colander with hot water. Simmer them in the soup for an additional 10 minutes.

Serve with the garnish ingredients indicated. Leftovers freeze wonderfully.

Serves 4-6

 

Note: Use extreme caution if using a propane torch indoors.  I would highly recommend using a cast-iron pan on your stovetop as a makeshift heat-shield.

Tomatillos and Garden Jalapenos | Culinary Compost Recipes

Hand-Ground Cumin Toasted From Seed | Culinary Compost RecipesMesquite-Grilled Chicken Breasts | Culinary Compost RecipesFire-Roasted Tomatillos and Poblano Chili | Culinary Compost RecipesFired Tortilla Shells | Culinary Compost RecipesMesquite-Grilled Chicken Tortilla Soup | Culinary Compost Recipes

Mike’s Atomic Buffalo Chicken Tenders


This is a tried-and-true recipe that never fails to please. The secret is the second-run through the egg wash. It allows the breading to set up better. The result is a fantastically light, crunchy coating enhanced by the addition of corn starch which helps keep it from getting too dense, while locking in the juices.  You can use a digital meat probe to test for doneness. The chicken should be golden-brown and read 165° F in the thickest part. If you trim the pieces as indicated, you will not have any issues.  You’ll also get great results using wings — keep in mind they cook faster, so watch them carefully.

A note on the wing sauce — this is a favorite of mine from Buffalo, New York; the undisputed wing capitol of the United States. It is, however, by no means “suicidal.” It has plenty of heat and a lot of tang; the balance being just right for my taste. Try it. I think you’ll agree.

 

Ingredients:

2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1.5 quarts peanut oil
Original Anchor Bar Suicidal Buffalo Wing Sauce

~For the Egg Wash:
2 large eggs, beaten
1/2 – 3/4 cup buttermilk
2 tbs. fresh-squeezed lemon juice

~For the Seasoned Flour Dredge:
3/4 cup white flour
1/4 cup corn starch
1 tsp. garlic granules
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. smoked Spanish paprika
1/2 tsp. ground ancho chili powder
1/4 tsp. ground cayenne pepper

~For the Breading:
equal parts plain, unseasoned bread crumbs and Japanese Panko bread crumbs

~For the Sides:
Buffalo Bleu Cheese Dressing
Thinly sliced scallion as a garnish
4-inch celery stalk planks

 

Directions:

Using a large cutting board, lay out the chicken breasts and cover with a double-folded piece of plastic wrap. Pound flat with a meat mallet. This ensures even cooking with no underdone spots in the middle.

Cut the chicken into 1″ strips against the grain to ensure they are tender. Then trim the strips so they are about 3 to 4″ in length.

Prepare the egg wash mixture by whisking the eggs in a wide, shallow bowl. Add the buttermilk and lemon juice. Whisk again. Add the chicken pieces. Coat well and set aside for at least 20 minutes.

Prepare the flour dredge ingredients in a separate bowl and mix well. Prepare the breading mixture in another bowl.

Preheat 1.5 quarts of peanut oil in a heavy cast-iron 4-quart chicken fryer until the temperature reaches 375° F.

Using a tongs, remove the chicken pieces from the egg wash and dredge in the flour mixture until evenly coated. Shake off the excess flour and set them aside on another plate while you work. Then quickly dip the tenders back in the egg wash and roll in the breading.

Working in batches of 3 or 4 tenders, carefully dip them into the hot peanut oil. A Chinese spider-strainer works great for this. Cook for no more than two minutes per batch, turning once at one minute until golden-brown. Remove and set aside on paper towel.

Place the tenders in a large mixing bowl and add the wing sauce to taste. Carefully toss until evenly coated.

Serve with the Buffalo Bleu Cheese Dressing and celery planks.
Garnish with the green scallion, sprinkled over the top.

 

Serves 4 comfortably.
Each breast will yield about eight tenders.

Note: Culinary Compost never endorses products for profit, and has received no monetary compensation for the content of this post.

Oven-Roasted Chicken with Carrots and Cremini Mushrooms


Roast Chicken with Carrots and Cremini Mushrooms | Culinary Compost Recipes

Tie the drumsticks together with some butcher twine so the chicken retains moisture. You can also fold the wings under the bird so they don’t dry out. Roast breast side up on an elevated wire rack, uncovered.

This is a savory recipe that takes little time to prepare — the result may very well be the most super-juicy and aromatic chicken you’ve ever enjoyed.  My wife is not fond of rosemary, so I had to cut back on the amount of fresh aromatics used to stuff the bird.  Ensure you have an accurate poultry thermometer. I use an instant-read Weber® digital probe. It’s quick and easy.  For consistent results, I always check the internal temp of the breast because it has more mass than the thighs and will take longer to cook.  Allow the bird to rest before serving so it stays juicy.  Enjoy—

 

Ingredients:

1 whole fryer chicken (about 5.5 to 6 pounds)
5 tbs. Trader Joe’s lemon-infused XV olive oil
Mike’s Backwoods Holler spice rub

1/2 lemon, sliced
2 tbs. salted butter
4 large cloves garlic, peeled and finely-chopped
1/2 small onion, roughly chopped
1 small bunch of fresh poultry spice (includes stems of sage, rosemary, thyme)

3 large carrots, peeled, quartered and cut into 1/2″ planks
6 medium Cremini mushrooms, washed, stemmed and halved
1 cup chicken stock

butcher twine for tying the drumsticks

 

Directions:

About 3.5 hours before serving, rinse the chicken and inner cavity in cold water. Discard the giblets from the cavity. Pat dry and place on a serving plate.
Brush down the entire chicken with 5 tbs. olive oil. Next, generously sprinkle the spice rub over the bird, ensuring all surfaces are evenly covered, including the inner fold of the wings and drumsticks. Leave on counter for one hour so the bird has a chance to warm up.  I don’t need to remind you to religiously clean all prep surfaces with disinfectant to avoid spreading salmonella bacteria. WASH YOUR HANDS with hot soapy water.

Preheat oven to 425° F.  About 2.5 hours before serving, stuff the cavity of the bird with the lemon slices, chopped onion, garlic, butter and poultry spice. The poultry spice is quite aromatic so watch how much you use. Carefully tie the drumsticks together using butcher twine. Place the bird in a medium roaster pan with a wire rack on the bottom. Layer the carrots and mushrooms around the bird and add 1 cup chicken stock to the pan.

Bake uncovered at 425° for 15 minutes. Then reduce the heat to 375° and bake for an additional 110 minutes, or until the internal temperature of the thickest part of the breast reads 165° F.

Remove and set aside covered for ten minutes before serving, which will allow the juices to reincorporate.

Serves 4.

 

Notes:
General cooking time for roast chicken is 20 minutes per pound. Shown is a 5.5 pound bird. Therefore, total cook time for a bird of this weight is 110 minutes. You will need to ADD 15 minutes, on average, if the bird is stuffed. The initial increased temp of 425° makes little difference in the end time result.  My calculation was pretty accurate: 125 total minutes / 60 = 2.08 hours + a 10 minute rest before serving. Your results will vary so experiment and have fun.

Adding the carrots and Cremini mushrooms is optional. There are two drawbacks if going this route.
1. The vegetables will be saturated in the chicken fat drippings. To retain the flavor and eliminate the fat, strain the vegetables from the pan and allow to blot dry on a paper towel. Then keep warm in a covered serving dish.
2. The mushrooms will tend to shrink a lot, so either half them or leave them whole.

One disadvantage of tying the legs together is that you can’t do the twist test to check for doneness. Go by the internal temperature of the breast — as a cross-check, pierce the inner thigh with a paring knife. The juices will run clear when the bird is done.

 

Save the leftover chicken for homemade soup. Click here for my recipe.
Save the drippings (skim off the fat) and use for stock or gravy.

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Culinary Compost Boycotts Penzeys Spices


Hello fellow foodies. After reading recent commentary from Bill Penzey, the author of Culinary Compost is officially withdrawing all references to Penzeys Spices on this food blog. While I’ve always known that Bill overtly inserts his political opinion in monthly mailings to his customer base, (which, in its own right is wrong on so many levels) I can no longer stand by and let this man spew his rhetoric of hate to conservatives, and to people who support and voted for Donald Trump in the 2016 Presidential election, by labeling them “racist.”

I am not a racist. I never have been. And I resent being called one.

This is extreme-left socialism, and this kind of bigotry has no place in America.  Make no mistake — my observation is not one of Conservatives vs. Liberals. It is simply a stance of the author not supporting an individual who wants to further divide this country through hate by means of his product.

Shown below are a few articles and a link to Penzey’s official Facebook page:

http://truthfeed.com/owner-of-penzeys-spice-co-trashes-trump-supporters-calling-them-racist-and-saying-they-must-be-punished/39315/

http://www.bizjournals.com/milwaukee/news/2016/11/21/penzeys-ceo-comments-ignite-backlash-praise-and.html

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2016/nov/23/bill-penzey-ceo-trump-voters-just-committed-the-bi/

https://www.theamericanconservative.com/dreher/bill-penzey-spices-trump/

http://modernfarmer.com/2016/11/penzeys-spices-condemns-trump-attracts-rage/

https://www.facebook.com/Penzeys/?fref=ts

2/1/18 Article in The New Yorker

 

You be the judge.  Last time I checked, America was still a free country. And my readers, of course, are still allowed to shop where they want and exercise their right to free speech, which I will always respect. However, pitting people against each other in the guise of “Love” is a ruse by Bill Penzey, who’s only concern is making as much money as he can over a very contentious election.  Funny thing is, he’s pissed off a lot of his customers, and I, for one, will not be coming back.

Invariably, comments by Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke say it best:
https://twitter.com/SheriffClarke/status/800088603422380033
“This typical hate-filled white elitist lefty doesn’t live around black people or have stores in black neighborhoods.”

Bill Penzey can be reached at bill@penzeys.com

#boycottpenzeys

 

In the interest of an open discussion, leave your thoughts below – none will be censured.
—Mike from Culinary Compost

Bill Penzey's Socialist Sea Salt

Penzey’s Spices announces new product.

Thai Lemongrass Curry Chicken


Thai Lemongrass Curry Chicken | Culinary Compost Recipes
This is a recipe inspired by one of my all-time favorites dishes featured at a local Thai restaurant. Sadly, the place closed and I was forced to reinvent it for posterity.  The flavor is intense and very complex. You will need a very sharp knife in preparing this recipe — lemongrass is a woody, fiberous stalk that is very hard to cut. The aromatic flavor of the lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves are essential to this dish. Most Asian markets will carry both of these items, so you should have no trouble finding them.

If you don’t have a good wok, I highly recommend the Lodge cast-iron version. It is built like a tank and can be used indoors over a gas or ceramic electric stovetop, or outside on a charcoal grill. I love mine and it has never let me down. Order it from Amazon and save yourself about twenty bucks.

Enjoy — this is one of my favorite recipes.

 

Ingredients:

For the Marinade~
2 large skinless chicken breasts, cut into 3/4″ pieces
1 two-inch shallot, peeled and minced
1″ chunk grated ginger root
3 lemongrass stalks – trimmed to about 8″ in length (discard the narrow green tops)
1/4 cup soy sauce
3 tbs. fish sauce
Juice from 1/4 lime

—————-

2 tbs. peanut oil
20 snow peas
1 fresh garden red bell pepper, sliced
5 leaves fresh basil
1 tbs. brown sugar
1 tbs. dry Balti spice
2 tbs. Thai green curry paste (or more to taste)
3 scallion, finely sliced with greens
1 cup fresh cilantro leaves
3 cloves garlic, crushed and minced
4 kaffir lime leaves – very thinly sliced
2 cups chicken stock
1 tbs. fish sauce
1 can Thai coconut milk

2 cups Thai jasmine rice, cooked according to package directions

 

Directions:

Marinade the chicken at least one hour prior to preparing the meal. Cut the chicken into 3/4″ pieces and place in a bowl. In a separate mixing bowl, add the soy sauce, lime juice and fish sauce. Add the minced shallot and ginger. Trim the lemongrass to 8″ and discard the root and green tops. Hit aggressively with a meat mallet and discard the tough outer sheath, keeping the inner core. Cut into 2″ sections and then finely julienne. Combine with the sauce and pour over the chicken pieces. Stir to ensure they are evenly coated and place covered in your fridge.

Cut, measure and prepare everything else so you are ready to go – Thai recipes are known for their short cooking times.

Preheat a wok over medium heat. Add the peanut oil and swirl to coat. When shimmering, add the garlic and saute for 30 seconds, stirring constantly so it doesn’t scorch. Quickly add the chicken and discard the marinade/lemongrass. Sear until no longer pink, stirring constantly.

Add the chicken stock and fish sauce and bring to a slow boil. Add the coconut milk and kaffir lime leaves. Stir to incorporate. Add the Balti spice, green curry and brown sugar. Stir until slightly reduced, about 3-5 minutes. Add the snow peas, bell pepper, and basil and cook for three additional minutes.

Remove the wok from the stove and place on a heavy serving trivet. Serve the lemongrass chicken over hot jasmine rice with cilantro and scallion as a garnish.

 

Serves 4

 

Sunday Chicken Soup


Sunday chicken soup

I threw this recipe together about fifteen years ago, as a way to use up leftover chicken meat. I’ve made it so often for the kids — who still rave about it as young adults — that I realized I’ve never recorded it here on Culinary Compost.  Serve with a nice crusty bread and butter, and a tossed salad.  Great for a Sunday lunch or dinner. Leftovers keep wonderfully.  Enjoy!

 

Ingredients:

4 large carrots, peeled and diced
1 medium onion, peeled and diced
2 ribs celery, thinly sliced with greens, finely chopped (the greens add a wonderful depth of flavor)
1/2 sweet red bell pepper – diced
4 tbs. salted butter
1 tbs. XV olive oil
2 tbs. flour
Leftover chicken meat – breasts or thighs, shredded
48 oz. chicken stock
1 10.75-oz. can of Campbell’s® Cream of Chicken soup
1 tbs. chicken base
1 small 4-oz. can Pennsylvania Dutchman mushrooms, stems & pieces, with liquid
1 15.8-oz. can Great Northern beans, with liquid
Small handful of angel-hair pasta, broken into thirds
Ground black pepper to taste
1/2 tsp. ground thyme
1 large bay leaf
2 tbs. dry parsley
3 tbs. dry chopped chives
2 tsp. garlic powder (not salt!)

 

Directions:

Using a large, heavy, 6-quart stock pot, add the diced carrots, onion, pepper and celery to 4 tbs. butter. Heat over medium until softened, about ten minutes, stirring occasionally with a wooden or silicone spatula. Add the olive oil and the flour. Reduce the heat slightly, and stir continuously for about five minutes to make a roux.  Add the chicken stock. Cover the pot and allow to come to a boil, then reduce the heat to a very low simmer.

Prepare the chicken meat by removing from the bone, then shredding into bite-sized pieces with a fork. Add to the pot. Add the dry spices and stir occasionally. Add the mushrooms (with the liquid from the can). Add the cream of chicken soup. Stir to incorporate and let simmer for at least a half hour, until the carrots and celery are just undercooked and still a bit crunchy. The volume should be reduced by a third.

Add the beans (with the liquid from the can) and angel-hair pasta, and cook for an additional 15 minutes over very low heat until ready. At this point the vegetables will be perfectly done.  Add water if necessary and go easy on the salt – the beans are loaded with it.

Makes just over two quarts.
Serves 6.

 

 

Mike’s Note:
When preparing in a 3-quart soup pot, use 1-3/4 quarts water, and 8 tsp. chicken base. Do not add salt.

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Tuscan Chicken with Classic Alfredo Sauce


A variation of two classic, time-tested Italian recipes — the chicken should be seared on the grill over real wood charcoal — anything else is setting yourself up for an inferior presentation.

Enjoy!


Ingredients:

FOR THE CHICKEN MARINADE:
2-4 large skinless chicken breasts
5 garlic cloves – minced
1/4 cup XV olive oil
1/2 cup fresh-squeezed lemon juice
2 tbs. premium Balsamic vinegar
1 tbs. fresh-minced garden oregano
2 tbs. fresh-minced garden basil
Crushed black pepper to taste
Kosher salt to taste

FOR THE ALFREDO SAUCE:
3 tbs. XV olive oil
3 large cloves peeled garlic – minced
1 stick salted butter
1 cup shredded hard Parmesan cheese
1 cup heavy cream
White pepper to taste
DO NOT add salt until you taste after simmering

12-16 oz. Penne pasta, cooked al dente

 

Directions:

Six hours before serving time, pound the chicken breasts flat on both sides using a meat mallet – this will ensure even cooking on the grill. Season each side of the breast lightly with Kosher salt.

Place in a locked storage bowl or a Zip-lock bag with the marinade ingredients, prepared as follows:
Mince five garlic cloves and whisk with 1/4 cup XV olive oil, 1/2 cup fresh-squeezed lemon juice, the Balsamic vinegar, minced fresh oregano, basil and crushed black pepper.

Chill until an hour before you are ready to grill – rotate the chicken occasionally in the marinade.

Prepare a heavy stock pot with enough water to boil the pasta. Heat on medium-high with a dash of salt.

Prepare an outdoor charcoal grill with enough wood charcoal for a medium-hot fire. When white-hot, level the coals and place the chicken breasts directly on the center of the grill grate.

Char and turn after four minutes. Turn again and check for doneness when the juices run clear. The breast should be firm with an internal temperature of 165° F. Remove from heat and let rest in a heavy covered dish.

While the breasts are grilling, heat a heavy, cast-iron pot over medium-low heat. Add the olive oil and minced garlic. Saute for four minutes, stirring constantly, taking care not to scorch the garlic.  Add the butter. Stir until melted. Increase heat slightly and slowly add the cream, grated Parmesan and white pepper. Bring to a simmer, then reduce heat and stir constantly until thickened, about six to ten minutes. Shut off the heat and cover.

While the breasts are grilling, bring the pasta water to a rolling boil. Add the pasta, calculating the finished serving time, and cook according to box directions, stirring occasionally – about six to nine minutes, until al dente. Drain and keep covered.

When the alfredo sauce is done, add to the drained pasta. Mix lightly. Slice the chicken breasts and serve on top of the pasta/sauce.

Serve with a garden spinach salad and Italian bread.

Serves 2-4

Pasta Puttanesca with Pan-Fried Chicken Breast


This is a recipe reputedly served by ladies of Italian bordellos. They would place a large bowl in the window of their room, tempting hungry patrons to pay a visit.  I fell in love with it (um — instead at a local restaurant…) because of the contrasting salty/briny flavor imparted by the signature minced anchovies and green olives.

It is fantastic paired with pan-fried or grilled chicken breast – sliced and then gently tossed in with the sauce and pasta.  It’s only a bit of extra work.

Serve with a side of thinly sliced Italian or French bread, good quality XV olive oil and a green salad.

Ingredients:
2-3 tbs. XV olive oil
1 pound pasta – spaghetti or angel hair – cooked al dente according to package directions
2 large boneless and skinless chicken breasts
1 tin King Oscar whole anchovies – removed from brine and finely minced
6 large cloves garlic – peeled and minced
20-30 brined green and/or Kalamata olives, removed from pits and roughly chopped
3 tbs. capers, drained
5 Cremini mushrooms, washed, stemmed and thinly sliced
1/4 red onion – thinly sliced
1/2 cup rinsed and trimmed flat-leaf parsley – finely chopped
1 tsp. finely chopped fresh oregano
1 28-oz. can whole or crushed tomatoes
1 14.5-oz. can diced tomatoes
Dash of red cayenne pepper flakes, to taste
Dash of kosher salt, to taste
Dash of red wine
Freshly shredded hard Parmesan cheese

For the Marinade~
3 large cloves garlic – peeled and minced
Bottled Italian salad dressing; about 3/4 cup

 

Directions:

Marinate the chicken breasts at least 3-6 hours prior to cooking in a ziplock bag, coated in Italian salad dressing and three minced garlic cloves. Rotate occasionally.

Remove the breasts and transfer to a dinner plate. Sprinkle each breast generously on both sides with shredded hard Parmesan cheese. Allow to warm to room temperature.

Prepare the remaining 6 cloves of minced garlic, the anchovies, onion, mushroom, flat-leaf parsley, olives, oregano and capers. Set aside.

Coat a cast-iron Panini pan with cooking spray and preheat until medium hot. While the pan is heating, place the tomatoes in a heavy cooking pot and heat until just simmering, stirring occasionally.

In a large cast-iron flat bottom skillet, heat 2-3 tbs. of olive oil on medium-high heat. Add the anchovies, garlic, mushrooms, onion, olives, oregano and capers. Sautee for about 5-7 minutes. Add the red wine to deglaze the pan. Transfer contents to the sauce pot with the tomato sauce. Season with red pepper, kosher salt to taste. Stir.

While cooking the above ingredients, place the chicken breasts in the Panini pan and cook about three minutes per side until golden with some char marks. Remove, set aside for five minutes and then slice in 1/2″ strips. Don’t fret if the chicken isn’t cooked all of the way through – you will simmer it with the sauce.

Prepare the pasta and cook al dente. Do not overcook. Drain and keep warm.

After the sauce has simmered for 15 minutes, add the chicken and cook until heated through. Add the flat-leaf parsley.

Add the sauce to the pasta and toss until just mixed through. Serve immediately garnished with grated hard Parmesan cheese.

Serves 6