Thursday, March 19, 2015

Southwestern Braised Chicken Thighs


When it comes to chicken, I've always grilled, fried or roasted it. Braising was something I hadn't done that often. With bone-in thighs on sale recently, I decided that it was time to get my braise-on and throw together a platter of Southwestern-style chicken.

The main reason I don't opt for cooking chicken in braises or steam, is the skin. I love it crispy! There is so much flavor there. I've been guilty of picking the skin off entire pieces of chicken and leaving what's rest for someone else to finish. A habit that would give me a great shot at employee of the month if I worked at Kentucky Fried Chicken!

What I found after preparing this dish was searing the chicken in a hot pan to start with was the secret. The brown crust provided texture on the skin and the fond on the bottom of the pan added yummy-goodness to the tomato-poblano sauce the chicken was braised in.

The braising liquid featured poblano pepper, tomatoes and cumin. This complimented the chicken, gave the rice plenty of flavor to absorb and was the real binder to the recipe's overall flavor.

In the end, I was really surprised by the absolute decadence of this dish. I would make it again for just about any occasion. And here is the best part: The cost of the entire dish – less than $7! (That's with the thighs on sale for 98¢ a pound.)

BEHIND THIS BITE
I haven't been posting as much since I moved last fall, but I have been cooking more than any other time in my life. Now that I'm starting to settle into my new location, I'm finding more time not only to cook but also prepare posts. In an effort to share more, I'm going to be doing a lot more posts that feature just a nice artsy picture or two of the dish. I'm still going to be doing my signature-style recipe graphics, but I want to share more of what I'm doing in the kitchen and I can do a post like this in less than an hour, a recipe graphic takes between 6 and 10!

Eat well, cook often ...

THE RECIPE
Serves 4, 1 hour
3 lbs Chicken Thighs
2 Poblano peppers, diced
1 Red Onion, diced
4 Garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbs Cumin
2 tsp Oregano
1 tsp Red Pepper flakes
1 Can Diced Tomatoes (14.5 oz)
1 C Chicken broth
1 1/2 Rice
3 C water

Brown Chicken
Season chicken with salt and pepper to taste. Heat a little oil in a large skillet over medium high heat, brown chicken on both sides. 4 to 6 minutes per side. Remove to paper-towel lined plate.

Make sauce
In hot drippings, saute onion and poblano pepper until soft, 3 to 4 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste. Add cumin, oregano, red pepper flakes and garlic. Stir and cook until fragrant. 1 to 2 minutes. Add tomatoes and chicken broth, scrape browned bits from bottom of pan and bring to a simmer.

Braise chicken, cook rice
Add chicken to pan, once mixture returns to simmer, cover, reduce heat to medium and let cook 30 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. Stir occasionally. Add rice and water to sauce pan or pot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer 15 minutes. Turn off heat, keep covered for 10 minutes more. Remove lid and fluff

Serve
Make a bed of rice on a large platter, spoon half of sauce on rice. Arrange chicken thighs on top. Spoon other half of sauce onto chicken, then serve.


Friday, March 6, 2015

Guilty Pleasures: Chili Dogs!


Chili dogs!

I love them.

Every greasy, salty unhealthy crumb.

They used to be my hangover cure. Now they're just my dirty little culinary secret.

I was at Meijer searching for the ingredients of a braised chicken dish when it hit – A craving from deep in my belly. It felt like a need greater than that of oxygen in my very lungs.

I had to have a chili dog - or four.

Not some fancy frank with a special homemade blend of sauce and fresh-made bun. I wanted a regular hot dog smothered in canned chili and delivered on wonder-bread. The kind of chili dog that will increase the chance of a heart attack by 37,000 times if eaten to often.

This dog isn't what you want to make if trying to impress a date or ingest for energy to run a 5K. A vegetarian would have an instant nervous breakdown at the sight of one of these dogs being devoured.

Yes indeed. A cheap package of hot dogs and a 10.5 oz can of no-bean, Hormel chili are essential to this sensational feast. I prefer diced red onion and shredded cheese as a garnish, and I always toast the buns.

Together these sinful treasures culminate in pure culinary bliss.

I probably eat chili dogs like this once every three or four months, I don't know if it's some pychological disorder or what, but I really do have a craving for these things, and I think they taste amazing!

Eat well, cook often ...

THE RECIPE
1 10.5 oz can of Hormel chili
8 hot dogs
8 hot dog buns
1/4 C diced onion
1/2 C shredded cheese (cheddar or jack)

Heat chili in a sauce pan on the stove or microwave in a micrwoave safe bowl. Cook dogs on a grill or on the stove. Toast buns. Place dog on bun, slather with chili, sprinkle with onion and cheese. Devour!