Archive for July 2012

Simply Grilled

July 22nd, 2012 — 8:17am
curry marinated grilled chicken breast

Curry-Marinated Grilled Chicken Breasts

Sometimes I just crave an unadorned piece of grilled meat. One that does not require sauce or condiments. In the case of a steak I am perfectly happy sprinkling the meat with salt and pepper, letting it rest for an hour or two and then grilling to medium rare. Between the outer char and the seasoning the steak can stand on its own without any further support. You could of course dress it with some compound butter or a complex sauce. For me the simple steak is all I really need.

Other cuts of meat tend to present a challenge. Chicken and pork are hard to cook on their own due to the lack of fat. Lamb is one of the meats I also feel needs a bit of an assist with something more than a bit of salt and pepper. My go-to option in these cases is a relatively long marinade in something salty and savory. Unfortunately I am usually stuck in a rut, using the same marinades over and over again.

This week I decided to try something new with chicken breasts. I used many of the usual ingredients. To speed things up I used powdered versions of ginger, and garlic and added some curry, the sweet

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version, to see what would happen. I find that marinades with chopped ingredients tend to get flavor hot spots. In an earlier version where I use chopped ginger and garlic you come across bites that have a more intense flavor of either or both. Not entirely unpleasant, but not really the idea behind the marinade.

This new version had a very subtle ginger and garlic flavor with a more intense flavoring from the curry. The new marinade also had the added benefit of an incredibly mouthwatering smell while the chicken was grilled. The curry gave the chicken a bit of a yellow hue to contrast with the deep brown grill marks. Nothing better than a dish that looks, smells, and tastes good. This chicken marinade has the added benefit that it takes about 5 minutes to prepare (no chopping). It is hard to imagine a more simple and tasty grilled chicken breast.

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Wherefore Art Thou Inspiration?

July 20th, 2012 — 8:01am
chicken meatballs in a baking dish

Chicken Meatballs in the Baking Dish

I am never really sure from where recipes come. Often the inspiration comes from laziness. I do not want to go to the store, therefore I use whatever is on hand. Many recipes are borrowed ideas that are rearranged and approached from a different perspective. Other ideas come from the “it’s on sale” mentality. Too cheap to pass up and no recipes to choose from.

Sometimes the recipes work. Other times they do not work. Sometimes the inspiration leads to other recipes. On a few occasions the inspirations get you into trouble. (When your sister tells your parents you borrowed some of the wine in the refrigerator to put in the carrots for example.) More often than not they are not really good enough to write down, passing into the oblivion of forgotten “good ideas.”

In the case of chicken meatballs the inspiration comes from taking a different perspective on an old dish, and the fact that both ground chicken and chicken sausage filling were on sale at the same time. Although I have to admit the “too cheap to pass up” motive was probably the more potent driving force.

The ground chicken and the chicken sausage filling collided with the usual ingredients to create an incredibly tasty, moist, satisfying meatball. There was enough interesting flavor from the sausage filling without screaming “sausage.” The added ingredients kept the meat moist in the absence of any real fat content. It is hard to say “satisfying” and “low in fat” in the same sentence. I often think combining the statements is oxymoronic. In this case, however, it really works. I might even pay full price for this meat combination in the future!

chicken meatballs

Chicken Meatballs

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Smoke and Mirrors

July 16th, 2012 — 8:35am
smoked turkey legs with white beans

Smoked Turkey Legs With White Beans

Another day, another trip to the grocery store, and of course another unintended purchase while suffering from food boredom. In this case smoked turkey legs were mixed in among the usual poultry products. It was clear that this was some sort of purchasing mistake as the grocery store had marked them down to $0.99 per pound and three smoked legs came to $1.99. How could I pass that up?

I did not feel like creating a new recipe so I tried the smoked turkey legs as a substitute for smoked pork shank braised with white beans, and a couple of days later I substituted the smoked turkey for roasted turkey in the Asian-style turkey soup. The smoked turkey legs in the white bean recipe tasted remarkably like the smoked pork shank. I guess the smoky flavor takes over in the long braise. The pork version contains more fat so the meat is a bit more tender and juicy. And with more fat the beans take on more flavor. In order to overcome the fat deficit, and to help use up an avalanche of peppers from the garden, I spiced up the turkey version with some serrano peppers worrying that the turkey and white beans might be a bit bland together. The peppers added just enough heat to give the beans a good depth of flavor without being too hot. I think if you can afford the pork shank, which usually runs about $8 per recipe, that would be the better option. But the smoked turkey provides a leaner, less expensive, though still tasty option.

The Asian-style turkey soup was a toss up between roasted versus smoked turkey. In either recipe I prefer the turkey legs with their dark meat. The question really comes down to how much you like smoky flavor in your food. Unlike the braised, smoked turkey legs, the smoked turkey in the soup still tasted like turkey with the smoke adding a bit more character to the recipe. This recipes probably comes down to which type of turkey you have on hand at the time. I usually only make this soup around Thanksgiving weekend to use up leftovers. However, if you find some turkey legs on sale it is a tasty soup just about any time of year.

plumeria bloom

From The Garden: Plumeria

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