Posts Tagged ‘cumin’

Kefta Tagine with Eggs and Roasted Cumin

January 16, 2012

After 2 weeks of not cooking, due to a lack of dishwasher (yes, we were actually so lazy we dirtied as few dishes as possible!), I wanted to try something lengthy, complicated, warm and comforting. Something that could go terribly wrong, but could also go terribly right. So, I broke out my Tagine cookbook, by Ghillie Basan, to find something spicy and filling to warm us on a cold winter night.

This dish caught my eye because even though it was comprised of the traditional lamb that is in many African dishes, it came together as meatballs, with sunny side up eggs, all cooked in the tagine.

The meatballs are called kefta, and they are filled with amazing spices, and are poached in water (which helps them keep their perfect shape), then cooked in spiced liquid that absorbs into the meatballs, and creates a hot, dry bottom of the tagine in which to cook the eggs.

Not only did the dish turn out perfectly, but the combination was nothing we had ever experienced. The spice, ras-el-hanout, is worth seeking out (I found mine at my local spice store, but you can also find it online).

My only caution is to be careful of the spice level. I will write this recipe with the spice level I used so hopefully it will do the trick (vs. the original recipe from the cookbook).

Trust me, it is worth the effort. And, ironically enough, at the end of the day there really weren’t many dishes to speak of – except the tagine itself (which doesn’t go in the dishwasher).

KEFTA TAGINE WITH EGGS AND ROASTED CUMIN
Serves 4

For the Kefta:
16 ounces ground lamb
1 onion, finely chopped
2 teaspoons dried mint
3 teaspoons ras-el-hanout
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
a small bunch of fresh flatleaf parsley, finely chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the Rest of the Dish:
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
6-8 eggs
2 teaspoons cumin seeds, dry-roasted and ground
a small bunch of fresh flatleaf parsley

To make the kefta, put the ground lamb, onion, mint, ras-el-hanout, cayenne and parsley in a bowl, season with salt and pepper, and mix well together. Using your hands, knead the mixture and mold it into small balls.

Fill a tagine (or dutch oven) with water and bring it to a boil. Carefully drop in the kefta, a few at a time, and poach them for about 10 minutes, turning them so they cook on all sides. Remove them with a slotted spoon and drain them on paper towels. Reserve roughly 2 1/2 cups of cooking liquid.

Add the butter to the tagine with the reserved cooking water and bring to a boil. Stir in the salt and cayenne and drop in the poached kefta. Cook over high heat until almost all of the liquid has evaporated (about 15 or so minutes). Carefully crack the eggs around the kefta, cover the tagine with the lid, and cook and steam until they are just set. Sprinkle the roasted cumin seeds and the chopped parsley over the top of the dish. Serve with pearl couscous and flat bread.

Butter Chicken (Murgh Makhanwala)

January 22, 2011

One of the first dates I had with my husband, I surprised him with preparing Indian food (one of his favorites). At the time, I was in a tiny apartment and really hadn’t developed the love for cooking that I have know. Reflective of that yet to be discovered passion was my sadly barren spice rack. I had the basics – cinnamon, oregano, etc. – but no garam masala or anything that sounded remotely exotic.

I remember going to Whole Foods and buying little baggies of the “rare” ingredients, as I saw them back then. I spent all day cooking, figuring out how to put together a sauce reminiscent of our nights of Indian takeout.

At the time, I was quite proud of my newly learned skills. And Rob was too, since I had clearly hooked him into yet another date with me. But, he didn’t marry me for my Indian cooking skills, since I have rarely attempted the feat since.

But, when I saw this recipe for butter chicken (our favorite dish at the old Indian restaurant around the corner), I knew I had to give it a go – if nothing but for old time’s sake.

The total preparation takes a little over an hour (and overnight marinade), so it might be ambitious for a weeknight, but it was perfect for a Sunday night. The sauce tasted exactly like the butter chicken we knew – and the leftovers the next day were even better. The only alteration I would make is to maybe shred the chicken before putting in back in the sauce, so eating it isn’t so much work.

Cooking Indian this time around was a bit different, though. I had no need to buy special ingredients because I had them all in my well-stocked spice closet (with the exception of curry leaves which I didn’t seem to miss). I had more confidence in my cooking abilities than years before. And, I had the ambition to make more than one dish by making the accompanying raita (which I recommend to help cool the heat). But, one thing did remain the same – I enjoyed it with the man I will spend the rest of my life with.

Thanks, Saveur, for this great Indian recipe that will be made frequently in our home.

MURGH MAKHANWALA (BUTTER CHICKEN)
Serves 4

FOR THE CHICKEN:
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp. canola oil
2 tsp. garam masala
1 tsp. crushed red chile
flakes
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 3″ piece ginger, peeled and thinly
sliced crosswise
Kosher salt, to taste
1 3–4-lb. chicken, cut into 8 pieces,
skin removed

FOR THE RAITA:
1/2 English cucumber (about 6 oz.),
seeded and grated
1/2 medium tomato, seeded and finely
chopped
1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1 cup plain yogurt
1 1/2 tbsp. roughly chopped fresh
mint leaves
1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp. ground coriander
1/4 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 medium carrot, finely grated

FOR THE SAUCE:
1 tsp. crushed red chile flakes
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 green cardamom pods, cracked
3 whole cloves, crushed
1 28-oz. can whole peeled tomatoes,
undrained
1 3″ piece ginger, washed and grated
(skin on)
1 bay leaf
1/3 cup heavy cream
4 tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into 1/2″
cubes
1 tsp. garam masala
4 fresh or frozen curry leaves
Kosher salt and freshly ground black
pepper, to taste

Marinate the chicken: Combine all marinade ingredients except for chicken in a food processor; purée. Transfer marinade to a large bowl and add chicken, tossing to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight.

Heat oven to 500°. Transfer chicken to an aluminum foil—lined baking sheet and spoon any marinade from bowl over chicken. Bake chicken until light brown but not cooked through, about 20 minutes. Transfer to a rack; set aside. Meanwhile, make raita: Toss cucumbers, tomatoes, and salt in a colander and let sit for 10 minutes. Press cucumbers and tomatoes to drain well and then transfer to a medium bowl along with yogurt, mint, lemon juice, coriander, cumin, and carrots; toss to combine. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for 1 hour.

Make the sauce: In a 6-qt. pot over medium-high heat, combine chile flakes, garlic, cardamom, cloves, tomatoes, ginger, bay leaf, and 2/3 cup water. Bring to a simmer, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook, stirring often and crushing tomatoes with a spoon, for 25 minutes. Discard bay leaf and transfer sauce to a food processor; purée. Return sauce to pot and continue cooking over medium-low heat until thickened slightly, about 15 minutes. Add reserved chicken pieces and any marinade from pan, along with 1/3 cup water. Cook, stirring occasionally, until sauce thickens and chicken is cooked through, about 10 minutes. Stir in cream, butter, garam masala, and curry leaves. Reduce heat to low and cook until flavors meld, about 5 minutes; season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat and keep warm.

To serve, transfer chicken and sauce to a serving platter and serve with the raita and basmati rice.

Mexican Feast: Grilled Ancho-Rubbed Pork with Smoky Tomato Salsa, Grilled Corn with Cheese and Lime, and Tangy Cabbage Slaw

July 21, 2010

Sometimes I find myself cooking and grilling in one-offs – I find a great steak recipe then think of a good potato recipe to go with it. I see a kabob recipe that looks good then think of some orzo or rice to go with it. Rarely, I have a cookbook or magazine article that gives me a full menu. And, what I have found is the more I try to cook from full menus, the easier it is to create my own.

This one came from Real Simple on an article about BBQing Beyond the Burger. I like it because it is an unexpected grilling menu, but is a great “theme” dinner and makes a good excuse to have a margarita! It seems like a lot of components, but take the effort to make them all if you can. They all meld together on your plate and complement each other perfectly.

If you haven’t used ancho chile powder, use this as your excuse to buy some. I like to think of it as a milder chili powder that has a bit of smokiness. It is traditional in Mexican cooking, and once you try it you will see why.

I recommend trying this menu on a Sunday night like we did – grill it all outside and enjoy a nice, cold margarita!

GRILLED ANCHO-RUBBED PORK WITH SMOKY TOMATO SALSA
Serves 8

2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons ground ancho chili pepper or regular chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
4 tablespoons olive oil
kosher salt and black pepper
3 pork tenderloins (about 3 1⁄2 pounds total)
2 pints grape tomatoes
6 cloves garlic, sliced
2 to 4 jalapeño peppers, seeded and sliced
16 8-inch flour tortillas

Heat grill to medium-high. In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar, chili pepper, cumin, 2 tablespoons of the oil, and 1½ teaspoons salt. Rub the mixture all over the pork.

Divide the tomatoes, garlic, and jalapeño peppers between 2 large pieces of heavy-duty foil. Dividing evenly, drizzle with the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil and season with 1 teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper. Fold and seal to form 2 pouches.

Divide the tortillas between 2 pieces of heavy-duty foil and wrap.

Grill the pork, turning occasionally, until an instant-read thermometer registers 145º F, 18 to 22 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board and let rest for at least 5 minutes before slicing.

Meanwhile, grill the tomato pouches, shaking occasionally, for 10 minutes; transfer the contents to a bowl. Grill the foil-wrapped tortillas until heated through, turning once, 3 to 5 minutes. Serve the pork with the tomato salsa and tortillas.

GRILLED CORN WITH CHEESE AND LIME
Serves 8

8 ears corn, shucked
1 tablespoon olive oil
kosher salt
1/2 cup crumbled queso fresco (fresh Mexican cheese) or Feta
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 limes, cut into wedges

Heat grill to medium-high. Brush the corn with the oil and sprinkle with ½ teaspoon salt. Grill, turning often, until tender and charred, 5 to 7 minutes.

Sprinkle the corn with the cheese and cayenne. Serve with the lime wedges.

TANGY CABBAGE SLAW
Serves 8

1/2 cup fresh orange juice
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons brown sugar
kosher salt and black pepper
1/2 medium red cabbage (about 1 1⁄2 pounds), cored and shredded – one one bag of pre-shredded cabbage
2 large carrots (about 1⁄2 pound), grated
3/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

In a large bowl, whisk together the orange and lime juices, oil, brown sugar, 1 teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon pepper.

Add the cabbage and carrots and toss to combine. Let sit, tossing occasionally, for at least 45 minutes. Fold in the cilantro before serving.

Peruvian Grilled Chicken (pollo a la brasa)

July 14, 2010

When I saw this recipe, I’ll be honest and admit I wasn’t sure exactly what Peruvian food entailed. Latin American, yes, but each country always has its own influence, its own specialty and its own regional cuisine. After my two weeks in Italy, I learned that even two regions in the same country are rarely alike.

So when I saw lime, cumin, paprika – I nodded my head. Sure, those all made sense. But then I saw soy sauce….huh? Apparently there are many large Japanese and Chinese communities in Peru, and hence they have influenced the cuisine. Seemed like an odd combination so I thought I would try it out.

I don’t know if it was the 24 hours in marinade, the slow cooking on the grill (you leave it on longer on the side without a burner on) or the flavorful combination of ingredients, but it is amazing! Very juicy, great taste, and a perfect, easy grilling meal. I served it with some Spanish beans and it made for an easy weeknight dinner (just don’t forget to throw it in the marinade the day before).

Thanks to Gourmet for this great keeper!

PERUVIAN GRILLED CHICKEN

Makes 2-4 servings

1/3 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
5 garlic cloves
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 whole chicken (about 3 1/2 pounds), quartered (or a package of chicken thighs, like I used)
Accompaniment: lime wedges

Marinate chicken:
Blend soy sauce, lime juice, garlic, cumin, paprika, oregano, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and oil in a blender.

Put chicken in a large sealable bag and add marinade. Seal bag and marinate, chilled, 8 to 24 hours.

Grill chicken:
If using a charcoal grill, open vents on bottom and lid of grill. Light a large chimney starter full of charcoal (preferably hardwood). When coals are lit, dump them out along opposite sides of bottom rack, leaving a space free of coals (the size of the quartered chicken) in middle. When you can hold your hand 5 inches above the grill rack directly over coals for 3 to 4 seconds, coals will be medium-hot.

If using a gas grill, preheat all burners on high, then reduce heat to medium-high.

Discard marinade, then pat chicken dry. Oil grill rack, then grill chicken over area with no coals (or over a turned-off burner), skin side down first, covered, turning over once, until cooked through, 30 to 35 minutes (add charcoal to maintain heat).

Oregano and Lime Roasted Chicken Breasts

March 28, 2010

I don’t think I am alone when I say that despite the guilt comes with it, eating the skin on chicken might be the best part of the bird. It tends to accumulate all of the flavor and gets crispy and juicy.

However, in attempts to eat a bit healthier, I always thought the skin was a luxury – a reward for a good week of healthy eating. And, it always was a treat that made me feel a bit guilty after the fact.

Yet Cooking Light Magazine has told me to leave the guilt behind, and I have to say I love the way they think. They say a 12-ounce bone-in, skin-on chicken breast half contains just 2.5 grams of saturated fat and 50 calories more than its similarly portioned skinless counterpart. That being said, I think I can enjoy a little chicken skin without feeling like I must compensate with adding another mile onto my run.

The flavor in this dish is fantastic – and I didn’t even let it sit for 4 hours (I only had 2 to give) so I am sure if you have the patience, it would only get better. The tequila sounded a bit odd, but I didn’t taste an alcohol taste – just a fun, bright Latin American flavor.

Thanks to Cooking Light for this one!

OREGANO AND LIME ROASTED CHICKEN BREASTS
Serves 4

Chicken:
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
2 teaspoons grated lime rind
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 bone-in, skin-on chicken breast halves (about 3 pounds)
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt

Sauce:
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1 tablespoon tequila
1/2 teaspoon lime juice

To prepare chicken, combine first 5 ingredients in a small bowl. Loosen skin from breast halves by inserting fingers, gently pushing between skin and meat. Rub the oregano mixture evenly under loosened skin of each breast half. Arrange chicken breasts in a shallow dish; cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours.

Preheat oven to 375°.

Heat oil in a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle chicken with salt. Add chicken to pan, skin side down; cook 5 minutes or until browned. Turn chicken over, and transfer to oven. Bake at 375° for 25 minutes or until chicken is done. Remove chicken from pan, reserving 1 1/2 tablespoons drippings; set chicken aside, and keep warm.

To prepare sauce, heat reserved drippings in pan over medium-high heat. Add flour and 1/4 teaspoon cumin to pan, and cook for 30 seconds, stirring constantly with a whisk. Add chicken broth, 1 tablespoon tequila, and lime juice, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Bring to a boil, and cook until reduced to about 2/3 cup (about 2 minutes), stirring occasionally. Serve with chicken.

Chicken Masala with Cumin Carrots

February 6, 2010

Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE traditional Indian food (next to Thai, might actually be my favorite). Tender meat swimming in a think and spicy sauce…yum! But, if you want something a little different from typical Indian fare, this is a good one to try.

We made them with chicken breasts in order to attempt something healthier, but I firmly believe bone-in chicken with skin would have knocked this one out of the park.

Thanks to Bon Appetit for this recipe. It is a good one for a crowd if they aren’t into ethnic foods. The flavors are mild (not lots of spice) without being boring.

Don’t omit the carrots – simple method, sure, but amazing results! Just throw them in the oven with the chicken after the chicken has gotten a bit of a head start.

CHICKEN MASALA
6 Servings

1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon garam masala*
2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt
1 large garlic clove, pressed
1 4- to 4 1/2-pound roasting chicken, cut into 8 pieces, backbone removed
2 small onions, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices

Mix yogurt, chopped cilantro, olive oil, garam masala, salt, and garlic in 13x9x2-inch glass baking dish. Add chicken to marinade, 1 piece at a time, coating all sides. Cover with plastic wrap; refrigerate at least 2 hours. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Keep refrigerated.

Position racks in top third and bottom third of oven; preheat to 400°F. Arrange onions in thin layer on large rimmed baking sheet to form bed for chicken. Top with chicken pieces in single layer, spacing apart for even roasting (chicken will still be coated with marinade). Discard remaining marinade.

Roast chicken on top rack until cooked through and juices run clear when thickest portion of thigh is pierced with knife, about 1 hour. Serve chicken atop onion slices. Spoon pan juices around.

CUMIN ROASTED CARROTS
6 Servings

* Nonstick vegetable oil spray
12 medium to large carrots, peeled, cut on diagonal into 1/2-inch-thick pieces (I actually used baby carrots)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons cumin seeds (or ground cumin)
2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt

Preheat oven to 400°F. Spray large rimmed baking sheet with nonstick spray.

Combine carrots and all remaining ingredients in large bowl; toss to coat. Spread in single layer on prepared baking sheet. Roast carrots until tender and lightly caramelized, turning carrots over once, 35 to 40 minutes.

Roast Pork Shoulder Cubano

January 24, 2010

If you are like me, I get most of my meat from the large grocery chain in the area, but then find excuses to frequent our local butchers. There is something about our local butchers I love – they know so much about meat and seem to always have what you are looking for. Not to mention it is always fresh.

This was one of the rare times they did not have the meat I was looking for. This recipe calls for bone-in fresh pork arm picnic shoulder with skin. And, I wasn’t the only person looking for the impossible that day – apparently someone had called earlier with the same request!

So, in exchange for the perfect cut of meat, my butcher gave me something he said would hold up to the long cooking times. It was a leaner meat, but I suggest you stick to a fattier cut so it holds the moisture better. Regardless, this recipe, with some dirty rice and beans, was a winner! This one was from the Gourmet cookbook.

One more thing to note, if you half or quarter the recipe like I did, you might want to keep the same numbers on your liquid ingredients so it doesn’t burn on the bottom of your dutch oven, or babysit the pork a bit more than usual if you have to pull it out in advance of the full cooking time.

Enjoy!

ROAST PORK SHOULDER CUBANO
Serves 8

1 cup fresh lime juice (from about 6 limes)
8 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons salt
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 (8 pound) bone-in fresh pork arm picnic shoulder with skin (if you can find it, or get something your butcher tells you is similar)
3 cups water
6 tablespoons distilled white or cider vinegar

Put a rack in middle of oven and preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Stir together 3 tablespoons lime juice, garlic, 2.5 tablespoons salt, oregano and cumin in a small bowl. Pat pork dry. With a small sharp knife, make 1-inch long by 3/4-inch deep incisions 3 inches apart all over the pork. Push about 1/2 teaspoon garlic mixture into each incision and rub remainder on meaty ends not covered by skin.

Transfer pork, skin side up, to a nonreactive roasting pan and pour remaining lime juice around it. Roast, uncovered, until most of juice has evaporated and brown bits are beginning to form on bottom of pan, about 30 minutes.

Stir together water and vinegar in a bowl and pour around pork. Cover pan tightly with foil or lid and roast for 1 hour.

Using a small ladle or baster, baste meat only (not skin) with pan juices. Cover and roast for 1 hour more.

With a sharp knife, gently loosen skin from meat without cutting through the skin and leaving fat layer attached to skin and, using a spoon or baster, baste meat under skin with pan juices (if your cut of meat has skin). Roast pork, uncovered, basting meat, not skin, every 20 minutes until skin is crisp, about 1.5 hours more (about 4 hours total roasting time). Transfer pork to a cutting board and let stand, loosely covered with foil, for 20 minutes. Skim fat from pan juices.

Cut pork into 1/4-inch thick slices and serve with skin and pan juices.

Grilled Turkey Burgers with Cheddar and Smoky Aioli

October 24, 2009

turkey burger 2Anyone who has tried to substitute beef for turkey in a burger knows that keeping it moist can be a bit challenging. Sure, it is by far healthier, but can you still get a good flavor?

I will admit, I was starting to give up, until I found this recipe in Bon Appetit. Added to the turkey is a smoky aioli which gives the burgers amazing moistness and flavor. Give this one a whirl if you aren’t a fan of the healthier turkey burger – it might make you a believer.

GRILLED TURKEY BURGERS WITH CHEDDAR AND SMOKY AIOLI
Serves 4

1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds (or use ground)
1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds (or use ground)
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil plus additional for brushing
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1 garlic clove, pressed
1 pound ground dark-meat turkey
4 slices white cheddar cheese or Monterey Jack cheese
4 sesame-seed hamburger buns

Toast cumin seeds and coriander seeds in small skillet over medium-high heat until aromatic and slightly darker in color, shaking skillet often, about 1 1/2 minutes. Cool. Finely grind toasted seeds in spice grinder or in mortar with pestle. Whisk mayonnaise, 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, fresh lemon juice, smoked paprika, garlic, and ground spices in small bowl. Season aioli to taste with salt and pepper. DO AHEAD: Aioli can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate.

Place turkey in medium bowl. Add 2 tablespoons aioli; mix gently. Using damp hands, divide turkey mixture into 4 equal portions, then form each into scant 3/4-inch thick patty, about 3 1/2 inches in diameter. Using thumb, make small indentation in center of each burger. DO AHEAD: Can be made 4 hours ahead. Cover and chill.

Prepare barbecue (medium-high heat). Sprinkle burgers with salt and pepper. Grill turkey burgers 5 minutes. Turn over; grill until almost cooked through, about 4 minutes. Top each burger with 1 cheese slice and grill until meat is cooked through and cheese melts, about 1 minute longer. Place 1 turkey burger on each of 4 bun bottoms. Top each with dollop of aioli and whatever else you would like on your burger. Cover burgers with bun tops.

Pork Meatballs in Chipotle Sauce

October 5, 2009

CHIPOTLE MEATBALLSWhen the weather gets cold, I love a huge bowl of spaghetti and meatballs. So, when I saw this recipe on a PBS show (Everyday Food), I thought it was an interesting twist. I love the unique flavor the chipotles provide, and it gives the traditional spaghetti and meatballs a different personality.

I personally love to bake the meatballs vs. frying them in a skillet (I tend to get a better shape and overall cooking temperature). But, this recipe would work either way (it was originally written for pan frying). I also cut back on the onion (1/2 an onion vs. a full onion) because it seemed like a lot in comparison to the meat. But, feel free to add more!

PORK MEATBALLS IN CHIPOTLE SAUCE
Serves 4

1 1/2 pounds ground pork
1/2 medium onion, coarsely grated and squeezed firmly to remove excess liquid
1 small zucchini, coarsely grated and squeezed firmly to remove excess liquid
1 large egg
1/4 cup dried breadcrumbs
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 to 2 chipotle chiles in adobo
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 (28 ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes with juice
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
Cooked rice and chopped fresh cilantro, for serving (optional)

In a medium bowl, combine pork, onion, zucchini, egg, breadcrumbs, oregano, cumin, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper; mix well with a fork. Form into 16 (2-inch) balls; transfer to a plate, and place in freezer until firm, 10 to 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine tomatoes and chiles in a blender; process until smooth, and set aside.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large, straight-sided skillet over medium-high heat. Add half the meatballs; cook until brown, turning often, 4 to 5 minutes; transfer to a plate. Repeat with remaining oil and meatballs. Or, preheat oven to 375-400 and place meatballs on jelly roll pan. Bake until cooked almost all the way through.

Add pureed sauce and return all meatballs to a skillet on medium low (the same skillet you cooked the meatballs in if you pan fried them). Cover; simmer, stirring occasionally, 30 minutes. Uncover, and simmer until sauce is thickened, 5 to 10 minutes more. Season with salt and pepper. Serve over rice, sprinkled with cilantro, as desired.

BBQ Spiced Chicken, Salsa Salad and Pumpkin Chipotle Polenta

August 6, 2009

IMG_1121I have to admit, although I married into an Italian family (with the last name Pasquinucci), I had never cooked with polenta before. Not only did I have no clue how to even cook it, but I always thought it had the stigma of being like gruel with no flavor. So, in the spirit of Julia Child, I was not afraid and gave it a whirl!

For those of you who haven’t made it before, you will laugh at how quick and easy it is. Just boil chicken broth with half and half, throw in the polenta and it is done in literally 2 minutes. But, the trick is adding additional flavor – this recipe does a great job with chipotles in adobo (if you haven’t tried these before, start slow in adding them until you get the head you want) and pumpkin.

The chicken also has an amazing flavor, different than other BBQ chickens I have made.

This recipe is special thanks to Rachael Ray – whose spice and flavor I always love!

BBQ SPICED CHICKEN, SALSA SALAD AND PUMPKIN-CHIPOTLE POLENTA

1 tablespoon grill seasoning
2 tablespoons chili powder
1/2 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon coriander
3 tablespoons dark brown sugar
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
4 plum tomatoes, chopped
1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 red onion, chopped
1/4 fresh pineapple, cut into spears and grilled
2 limes
A handful fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cups chicken stock
1 cup milk or half-and-half
1 chipotle in adobo, finely chopped and 2 teaspoons adobo sauce
3/4 cup quick cooking polenta
1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin puree
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons honey

Heat grill pan over medium-high heat.
Mix spices and sugar in a large plastic food storage bag. Coat chicken with 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil and add to bag. Coat the chicken evenly in the spices and sugar. Let the chicken hang out a few minutes.

Chop and combine the tomatoes, bell pepper, onions and grilled pineapple spears.

Place chicken on grill and cook 6 to 7 minutes on each side.

Dress the salad with lime and a couple tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil. Season the salad with cilantro, salt and pepper.

Heat the stock and milk or half-and-half in a sauce pot with chipotle and adobo sauce. Whisk in the polenta and thicken 2-3 minutes, stir in pumpkin to warm through. Stir in butter and honey and season with salt and pepper.

Serve polenta with chicken and salsa salad.


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