Drunken Noodles (Pad Kee Mao)


Pad Kee Mao | Drunken Noodles | Culinary Compost RecipesThis 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.

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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.

Mike’s Backwoods Holler Rub


Mike's Backwoods Holler Rub | Culinary Compost RecipesThis is an excellent rub for fresh-caught lake fish or beer-can chicken. Use on tilapia, catfish, bass, bluegills, salmon, walleye and Northern pike. When applied to chicken, brush with XV olive oil first, and then let the bird sit overnight in the fridge so the flavors can adhere to the skin. I highly recommend making a double batch — you’ll be using that much anyway so you’ll save time by preparing it up front.

 

Ingredients:

1 tbs. Kosher salt
4 tbs. Hungarian paprika
1 tbs. ground ancho chili
1 tsp. fresh-ground black pepper (medium-grind)
1 tbs. thyme (crushed in mortar)
1 tbs. dry rosemary (crushed in mortar)
2 tsp. garlic granules
1 tsp. chipotle powder (hot Meco preferred)
1 tsp. ground coriander

 

Directions:

Measure ingredients exactly and funnel into a pint mason jar. Cover and mix well. Will keep up to a year in a cool, dry storage cabinet before the flavors start to fade.

If you double the amount it makes just over 1 cup.

Mike's Backwoods Holler Rub | Culinary Compost Recipes

Experimenting with the ratio of spices. Needed more punch on the aromatics…

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