Gỏi Bắp Chuối (Vietnamese Banana Blossom Salad) & Giveaway Winner!

Gỏi Bắp Chuối (Vietnamese Banana Blossom Salad)

Ever had Gỏi?

Gỏi is a general term for “salads” in Vietnamese and can come in all forms using a variety of ingredients. Lately, my favorite Gỏi utilizes thinly sliced Banana Blossoms. I combine it with grilled proteins, pink grapefruit, creamy avocados, a ton of herbs and a healthy douse of Nước chấm “vinaigrette”. It’s absolutely delicious and epitomizes the balance in Vietnamese cuisines.

If you’ve never used Banana Blossoms before, they can be somewhat tricky the first time around. It’s best to remove the outer few petals as they’re quite tough (though you can save them as garnish), use a really sharp knife so you can get thin slices, and be sure to soak the cut blossoms in cold water that has been mixed with some type of acid–citrus juice or vinegar does the trick. The later helps removes some of that chalky flavor that the Banana Blossoms can sometimes have.

And although it sounds a bit laborious—it’s totally worth it and delicious!

 

Gỏi Bắp Chuối (Vietnamese Banana Blossom Salad)

And now to announce the winner of a fabulous Nambe Pasta Cradle Bowl

Drum Roll please………….

CONGRATS Serena Kim who said she would serve Shrimp Pesto Pasta in the Nambé Bowl. Sounds yummy and will look gorgeous in your new bowl! Serena, we’ll be sending you an email shortly so we can get your new Nambé artwork shipped out.

THANK YOU to everyone who participated! And THANK YOU Nambé !

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Gỏi Bắp Chuối (Vietnamese Banana Blossom Salad)
Serves 4-6

Ingredients:
Nước chấm (Sauce):
¼ cup fish sauce
¼ cup fresh lime juice
¼ cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons cold water
1 teaspoon fresh garlic, finely minced
chili paste, to taste

Gỏi (Salad):
cups chicken breast, grilled and shredded
cups prawns, shelled and grilled
2 medium sized avocadoes, cubed
1 cup Ruby Red Grapefruit segments
4 cups banana blossoms, julienned
¼ cup loosely packed fresh Vietnamese Mint (rau răm), chopped
3 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
tablespoon fresh mint, chopped
1 cup rice wine vinegar
¼ cup fried shallots
¼ cup roasted peanuts, crushed
cold water
black pepper to taste

Prepare the sauce. In a medium sized bowl, stir the sugar and water together until completely dissolved. Add the remaining sauce ingredients and stir until combined. Set aside.

Fill a large bowl with cold water and add the rice wine vinegar. Peel off the dark colored and tough outer leaves of the banana blossom. Use a sharp knife or mandolin to julienne the blossoms. You can either discard the “baby bananas” or chop them up finely. Submerge the banana blossoms into the bowl of water/vinegar after they have been julienne. Allow the banana blossoms to sit in the vinegar water for 15-20 minutes.

In a large bowl, add the shredded chicken, prawns, avocados, herbs, and freshly cracked black pepper. Add a few spoonfuls of the sauce until the items are lightly coated. Drain the banana blossoms from the vinegar water and squeeze out any excess liquids. Add banana blossoms to the other ingredients and spoon in some additional sauce. Gently toss the salad with the fried shallots and plate. Sprinkle the top with crushed peanuts and serve.

Bánh Mì Gà Nướng (Vietnamese Roasted Chicken Sandwich)

Bánh Mì Gà Nướng (Vietnamese Roasted Chicken Sandwich)

The other week I did a quick poll via Twitter and Facebook asking folks what Vietnamese dishes they’d like to see on the blog—well, other than Phở :)

I got a range of requests from Bún (Vermicelli Noodles) to Gỏi Cuốn (Spring/Summer Rolls) and even Bánh Mì (sandwiches).

Bánh Mì Gà Nướng (Vietnamese Roasted Chicken Sandwich)

But truth be told, outside of the occasional Bánh Mì Chả Lụa (Vietnamese “Ham”/”Sausage” Sandwich), I rarely ever make Bánh Mì.

Bánh Mì Gà Nướng (Vietnamese Roasted Chicken Sandwich)

By no means is Bánh Mì difficult to assemble but I’ve always been lucky enough to have local Bánh Mì shops nearby and at under 3 bucks a pop (and that’s on the high end), I have been just darn lazy. Yup, I admit it.

Bánh Mì Gà Nướng (Vietnamese Roasted Chicken Sandwich)

At it’s base, Bánh Mì is made up of a toasted french baguette, pickled veggies, tons of cilantro, mayonnaise, and some type of protein. But don’t let it fool you. Just because it sounds simple, doesn’t mean the flavors aren’t genius!

Bánh Mì is all about balance. The great crunch from the baguette, savory flavors from the protein, bright notes from the herbs and the sweet/tangy aspects of the pickled veggies. Just Perfect.

Bánh Mì Gà Nướng (Vietnamese Roasted Chicken Sandwich)

But I realize not everyone has access to yummy Bánh Mì shops so I thought it would be fun to share a delish and easy method. For this particular Bánh Mì Gà Nướng, I used chicken thighs marinated with Chinese Five-Spice and Maggi Seasoning Sauce. In fact, this is how our mom would often marinade our poultry—including our Thanksgiving turkeys every year! The Five-Spice gives a deep, earthy flavor from the combination of star anise, cloves, and other goodness. Trust me, it’s amazing.

And with that friends—Ăn ngon! Stay tuned next week for another Vietnamese dish!

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Bánh Mì Gà Nướng (Vietnamese Roasted Chicken Sandwich)
Serves 4

Ingredients:
4 6-inch Baguette Rolls, lightly toasted and sliced lengthwise
Five Spiced Chicken*
Đồ Chua (Pickled Vegetables)*
Mayonaisse*
1 Bunch Fresh Cilantro Leaves, washed and dried
1 Jalapeno Pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
1 Small Cucumber, thinly sliced lengthwise


Five-Spice Chicken
:
6 Chicken Thighs, bone in and skin on
1 Tablespoon Five-Spice Powder
¼ Cup Granulated Sugar
2 Teaspoons Black Pepper
3 Tablespoons Minced Garlic
2 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil
½ Cup Maggi Seasoning Sauce

Đồ Chua (Pickled Vegetables):
1 Cup Carrots, julienned
1 Cup Daikon Radish, julienned
2 Tablespoons Granulated Sugar
1 Teaspoon Kosher Salt
1 Cup Rice Wine Vinegar
½ Cup Boiling Water

Mayonnaise:
2 Large Egg Yolks, at room temperature
1 Cup Vegetable Oil
1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice
1 Garlic Clove, minced
¼ Cup Fresh Cilantro Leaves, chopped (optional)
2-3 Dashes Nước Mắm (fish sauce)

Prepare the marinade for the chicken. In a large bowl, whisk together the Five-Spice, sugar, and pepper. Stir in garlic, Maggi and oil until the dry ingredients have dissolved. Submerge the chicken into the marinade, being sure to coat both sides. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least 60 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare the Đồ Chua (Pickled Vegetables). In a medium sized bowl, dissolve the sugar and salt with the boiling water. Add the vinegar and allow the liquid to cool to room temperature. Add the vegetables and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Prepare the mayonnaise. In a blender, add all the ingredients except the oil. Pulse several times and then slowly drizzle in the oil until the mayonnaise has properly emulsified. Refrigerate until ready for use. *You can also use jarred mayonnaise to substitute*

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Grease a baking sheet with oil and place the marinated chicken thighs on the sheet, skin side up. Roast for approximately 30 minutes until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 160 degrees F. Remove the chicken and transfer to a plate. Once the chicken is cool enough to handle, remove the skin and bones and shred the meat into pieces.

Assemble the Bánh Mì. Spread a heaping spoonful of mayonnaise inside one side of each toasted baguette roll. Fill each roll with the chicken and drizzle a bit of the pan drippings over the meat. If desired, sprinkle with more black pepper. Fill the sandwiches with pickled vegetables, jalapeno and cucumber slices, and the cilantro. Enjoy!

Creamy Pesto Rigatoni

Creamy Pesto Rigatoni

This past weekend I caught up with some friends over dinner. And before we knew it, we launched into an extensive and detailed conversation on how we believe that Pesto goes with practically anything.

Sandwiches, appetizers, crackers, pastas……….

P had even threatened to top the panna cotta I made for dessert with it but his wife quickly intervened. Okay…that may have been a bit much but I see where he was going with it.

Creamy Pesto Rigatoni

 

 

I typically go on a major pesto binge when herbs are abundant at my local farmers market. It’s so easy to change things up with various herbs and whatever types of nuts you have on hand. And the awesome thing is— Pesto freezes beautifully! Just drizzle some olive oil on top before sealing the container and your fresh pesto can keep in the freezer for months! A quick and easy way to flavor dishes with yummy herbaceous notes.

 

 

Creamy Pesto Rigatoni

 

 

This little number is a delicious and satisfying quick meal. PERFECT for any weeknight as you can pull it together in under 30 minutes! Easy Peasy!

And for an added spin, toss the pesto pasta with a cup of shredded cheese (of your choice) and spread into a casserole dish. Top with panko bread crumbs, more parmesan cheese and drizzle olive oil on top. Bake for 20 minutes at 400 degrees and you’ve got a hearty and tummy warming alternative dish!

Oh Pesto….I love you.

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Creamy Pesto Rigatoni
Serves 6

Ingredients:

1 Pound Chicken Breast, skinless and boneless
1 Tablespoon Minced Garlic
1 Cup Pesto
1 Cup Grape Tomatoes, halved
1/4 Teaspoon Red Chili Flake
1/2 Cup Heavy Cream
1/4 Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
Kosher Salt
Black Pepper
Olive Oil
1 Pound Rigatoni Pasta

Slice chicken breast into strips and season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Fill a large pot of water and bring it to a boil. Heavily salt the water and cook pasta according to directions.

In a heavy bottom pan, add 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil and brown the chicken. Once cooked, remove the chicken from the pan. Add an additional tablespoon of oil and cook garlic over medium heat for 1-2 minutes before tossing in the tomatoes and red chili flakes. Cook for about 2 minutes and stir in pesto. Heat the pesto and then stir in the heavy cream. Once incorporated, toss in the pasta, chicken, parmesan cheese and coat well. Check for seasonings and adjust with salt and pepper as needed. Serve warm.

Oven-Baked Parmesan Chicken Tenders

Oven-Baked Parmesan Chicken

Despite what you may have heard…..Chicken Tenders aren’t just for kiddie menus.

Though, in an effort for full disclosure, I have been known to order off the kiddie menus at certain dining establishments. Heck, depending on the spot, the portions sizes are perfect for me—-and at a fraction of the cost.

I, apparently, have no shame.

Oven-Baked Parmesan Chicken

But back to the Tenders…..

Now, I’m not sure if I’ve said this before but when it comes to poultry, I’m a dark meat kind of gal. I find that there’s more flavor to dark meat and it retains much more moisture when cooked. But of course, white meat is considered the “healthier” portions of the bird and often times, can be cooked in a shorter time frame.

For a fast meal, I often pick up packages of Chicken Tenders to throw in recipes. Though they technically are a part of the chicken breast, I find them easier to use and quick to cook with.

Oven-Baked Parmesan Chicken

So when I got a hankering for some crispy, fried chicken this past weekend (one of my vices), I opted for a “healthier” alternative by baking instead of frying up some chicken. Using the method from Americas Test Kitchen, I took a bunch of defrosted chicken tenders, rolled them in Parmesan cheese and pan-toasted panko crumbs and got deliciously crunchy Chicken Tenders. They were golden brown, wonderfully crispy, not the least bit dry, and kind of fun!

And before anyone busts my chops for throwing in cheese to a recipe when I was trying to go healthy—-allow me to say, MY KITCHEN, MY RULES! Though…..at least I had a salad to go along with it. :)

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Oven-Baked Parmesan Chicken Tenders

Ingredients:

2 Cups Panko Breadcrumbs
2 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil
½ Cup Parmesan Cheese, finely grated
2 Tablespoons All Purpose Flour
1 Teaspoon Garlic Powder
½ Teaspoon Kosher salt
¼ Teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
3 Large Egg Whites
1 Tablespoon Water
1 Teaspoon Minced Fresh Thyme
Cooking spray
1½ lbs. Boneless, Skinless Chicken Tenders (or skinless breasts cut into strips)
Kosher Salt and Black Pepper


Preheat the oven to 475˚ F. In a large skillet, toss the panko with the oil. Toast over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, about 8-10 minutes. Transfer the toasted crumbs to a shallow dish or pie plate.

In a second shallow dish, whisk together the parmesan cheese, flour, garlic powder, salt, and cayenne pepper. In a bowl, whisk together the egg whites, water, and thyme. Heavily season the chicken with salt and pepper.

Spray a wire rack lightly with cooking spray and place over a rimmed baking sheet. Working in batches, dredge a few pieces of the chicken in the cheese/flour mixture, then the egg whites, and finally the breadcrumbs to coat, shaking off the excess between each step. Lay the coated pieces on the prepared wire rack and repeat with the remaining chicken.

Spray the tops of the chicken pieces lightly with the cooking spray. Bake until the chicken is cooked through, 15 minutes. Flip the chicken halfway through the cooking time and lightly spray the tops with cooking spray before returning to the oven. Serve with a squeeze of fresh lemon or dipping sauce of your choice.

Celebrate the Return of College Football….with Buffalo Wings!

Buffalo Wings

 

 

Thank the Heavens…….

COLLEGE FOOTBALL RETURNS THIS WEEKEND!!!!

 

 

Buffalo Wings

As my mighty USC Trojans kick off their season this Saturday, I will be eagerly cheering them on with a buffalo wing in one hand and—let’s be honest, an adult beverage in the other.

Buffalo Wings

 

 

But I must confess to you my friends. I am a severely LOYAL and sometimes insane FANATIC when it comes to my USC Trojans and Minnesota Vikings.

You’ve been warned.

FIGHT ON, SC!!!!!!!!

 

 

 

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Buffalo Wings
Serves approximately 4

Ingredients:

2 Pounds Chicken Wings, separate wings at the joint with tips removed
½ Cup Unsalted Butter
¼ Cup Hot Sauce (I like to use Frank’s Red Hot Sauce)
1 Teaspoon Garlic Powder
1 Teaspoon Onion Powder
1 Cup All Purpose Flour
Vegetable Oil

Fill a large pot or dutch oven with about 2 inches of oil and heat until 350-375 degrees F.

While the oil is heating, toss the chicken in the flour. Shake off excess flour and carefully fry the wings in the heated oil for about 3-4 minutes on each side and until they become golden brown. This may need to be done in batches to not overcrowd your pot.

When the last batches of wings are frying, melt the butter in a small sauce pan. Remove from heat and stir in garlic powder, onion powder, and hot sauce. When the wings have all been fried, toss them with enough of the butter-hot sauce mixture until the wings have been well coated. Serve warm with blue cheese dressing, carrot sticks, and celery sticks.

Thịt Gà Bóp Rau Răm (Huế Style Chicken Salad with Vietnamese Cilantro)

Thịt Gà Bóp Rau Răm (Huế Style Chicken Salad with Vietnamese Cilantro)

 

Growing up, our mom never measured her ingredients out. It was a toss of this, a pinch of that…..taste, adjust, and a few more shakes of whatever just for kicks. And even when she was coerced into documenting her dishes, they were vague amounts such as a “1/2 rice bowl of sugar” and a “handful of garlic”. Everything was “to taste”.

It made it difficult as heck to learn her “recipes” but I soon realized all of our aunties were like that too. And that’s what I’ve come to believe Vietnamese cooking to be. It’s pretty tricky as it’s all “to taste” and highly subjective.

You’ll find this quandary even more prominent in “simple” dishes as one slight off-balanced proportion will throw your taste buds for a spin. Things like nước chấm, soups, and even salads will have you repeatedly tasting and adjusting for the perfect balance.

 

Thịt Gà Bóp Rau Răm (Huế Style Chicken Salad with Vietnamese Cilantro)

 

Thịt Gà Bóp Rau Răm, is a perfect example of this challenge and was a staple in our household growing up. Popularized from the Huế region of Viet Nam, shredded poached chicken is tossed in a light vinaigrette and packed FULL of fresh herbs and thinly sliced onions. And although I’ve given some measurements in the recipe below, it really depends on your flavor palette to add as much or as little lemon juice and sugar or salt and pepper. Just keep in mind that it’s also served with the nước chm dipping sauce so you’ll need to adjust accordingly.

With all that said, the rau răm (known as Vietnamese Cilantro or Vietnamese Coriander) is my favorite part of the dish. The uniquely bright and slightly peppery flavor this herb adds is something that is difficult to describe but must be experienced. In fact, I’d say that it’s my favorite herb, closely followed by fresh cilantro and Thai basil. The addition of the shredded red cabbage is my nod to the restaurant, Hue Rendezvous in Westminster, California. They serve their Gà Bóp on top of shredded green cabbage, which I think is such a great addition for the added crunch and texture. This time around, I chose to use red cabbage because it’s a little milder in flavor and because its beautiful color provided such a striking contrast.

Thịt Gà Bóp Rau Răm is best served at room temperature and would be a great addition to any summer picnic or luncheon. I’d even venture to say a light Rau Răm Mojito would be a great cocktail pairing for this dish. And that, my friends, is how I also come up with random cocktails :)

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Thịt Gà Bóp Rau Răm (Huế Style Chicken Salad with Vietnamese Cilantro)
Serves 6

Ingredients:

1 Whole Chicken, preferably Free-Range
2 Tablespoons Nước Mắm, fish sauce
2 Inches Fresh Ginger
3 Whole Garlic Cloves, lightly crushed
½ Tablespoon Black Pepper Corns
1 Small Sized Red Cabbage, shredded
1 Medium Sized White Onion, sliced paper thin
½ Cup Rice Wine Vinegar
1 Bunch (about 1½ cups) Rau Răm leaves, roughly chopped
¼ Cup Fresh Cilantro, roughly chopped
¼ Cup Fresh Lime Juice
1 Teaspoon Sugar
Optional: Nước chấm, fried shallots, crushed peanuts, and chilies

Thoroughly wash and clean the chicken. I usually lightly scrub several tablespoons of table salt all over the exterior body/interior cavity of the chicken and rub cut lemon wedges over the skin. This acts as a type of “exfoliant” and helps to reduce impurities and grit as the chicken is poaching. Trim any excess fat and skin as well as be sure to remove the bag of giblets and neck. Rinse the chicken well with cool water and pat dry with paper towels. Prick the skin of the chicken all over with the tines of a fork.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the nước mắm, ginger, garlic cloves, and pepper corns. Gently ease the chicken into the pot and lower the heat to an even simmer. Poach until cooked—about 25-30 minutes. (Skim off any impurities that may form and discard.) Carefully remove the chicken from the pot and cool to room temperature. *At this point, the poaching liquids can be strained and stored to be used as a light chicken broth at another time.

While the chicken is cooling, combine the sliced onions and rice vinegar in a small bowl. Toss to cover thoroughly and allow to sit for about 15 minutes. In another small bowl, dissolve the sugar into the lime juice.

When the chicken is cooled enough to handle, shred all the meat into bite sized pieces discarding the skin, bones, and fatty portions. Toss the shredded chicken with the pickled onions and add in the rau răm and cilantro.  Add the lime juice mixture a little bit at a time to your taste preference. Season with salt and pepper.

To plate, spread the shredded cabbage on a large plate and top with a pile of the  shredded chicken salad. Sprinkle the tops with fried shallots, chilies, crushed peanuts and serve with nước chấm on the side.

*It should be noted that Gà Đi B (free range chicken) is preferred in this dish for its texture and flavor.


**This is my submission to Delicious Vietnam #14, a monthly blogging event celebrating Vietnamese cuisine which was started by Anh of A Food Lover’s Journey and Hong & Kim of  Ravenous Couple. For more information, please visit Delicious Vietnam Thanks to Rau Om for hosting this month!**


Penne di Funghi con Pollo e Salsiccia

Penne di Funghi con Pollo e Salsiccia

Okay, I confess. I didn’t really come up with this pasta dish on my own. It’s actually my interpretation of Pasta Pomodoro’s Penne Portobello which I just L-O-V-E.

Italian Sausage, chicken, mushrooms—all in a garlicky cream sauce. How could it not be Delizioso?

Penne di Funghi con Pollo e Salsiccia

In addition to the criminis, I used porcini mushrooms and its liquor for an extra level of earthiness to the dish.  I also threw in fresh arugula leaves at the very end for a bit of freshness and peppery flavor. And although this is technically a cream sauce, you’d be surprised how light it all was.

Bon appetito!

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Penne di Funghi con Pollo e Salsiccia
Serves 4-5

Ingredients:

¾ Pound Penne Pasta
2 Links Spicy Italian Sausage, casings removed
1 Boneless Chicken Breast, sliced
2 Cups Loosely Packed Arugula
2 Cups Crimini Mushrooms, sliced
½ Ounce Dried Porcini Mushrooms
1 Cup Hot Water
1 Cup White Wine
¼ Cup Heavy Cream
3 Tablespoons Shallots, chopped finely
3 Whole Garlic Cloves, diced finely
¼ Teaspoon Dried Chili Flakes
2 Tablespoon Olive Oil
Kosher Salt and Black Pepper

Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add salt and cook the penne pasta just shy of al dente.

Place the dried Porcini in a bowl with the hot water. Allow the mushrooms to reconstitute—about 10 minutes. Squeeze out extra liquid from the Porcinis (saving the liquid) and roughly chop them.

Heat olive oil in a very large heavy pan (or pot) over medium-high heat. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Add Italian sausage to the pot and use a wooden spoon to crumble the meat and break into small pieces. Once the sausage is barely pink, add the chicken. Continue cooking until both are done. Use a slotted spoon and transfer it to a plate covered with paper towels.

Using the same pan, lower the heat to medium and sauté the shallots until translucent. Add garlic, chili flakes, and both mushrooms. Cook until the mushrooms are tender. Stir in wine and liquid that the porcini was reconstituted in–being careful not to add in the mushroom grit/sand. Raise the heat to medium-high and cook the liquids until it is reduced by half. Stir in the cream and cook for an additional 1-2 minutes. Return the sausage and chicken to the pot and add the cooked penne. Stir until all the penne has been coated. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove pan from the heat and toss in the arugula leaves. Toss until the leaves are just wilted. Serve and Enjoy!

Panko-Crusted Baked Chicken Fingers

Panko Crusted Baked Chicken Fingers

 

Now that I’m back on a “normal” work schedule, I need meals that are relatively quick to prepare but still make me happy to end the day with. And let’s face it, who couldn’t use another quick recipe in their back pocket?

These Panko-Crusted Baked Chicken Fingers fit the bill P-E-R-F-E-C-T-L-Y! Not only are they palette pleasing but they are a healthier version of the much beloved chicken tenders. I was initially concerned that the oven baking process wouldn’t yield the crisp texture that we all love. But to my delight, these chicken fingers had a super crunchy exterior and juicy interior.

Both adults and munchkins alike will be begging you to make these all of the time!

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Panko-Crusted Baked Chicken Fingers
From America’s Test Kitchen Healthy Family Cookbook

Ingredients:

2 cups panko breadcrumbs
2 tbsp. canola oil
½ cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp. garlic powder
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
3 large egg whites
1 tbsp. water
1 tbsp. Dijon mustard
1 tsp. minced fresh thyme or ¼ tsp. dried
Cooking spray
1½ lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into ¾-inch wide strips


Preheat the oven to 475˚ F.  In a large skillet, toss the panko with the oil.  Toast over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, about 8-10 minutes.  Transfer the toasted crumbs to a shallow dish or pie plate.

In a second shallow dish, whisk together the flour, garlic powder, salt, and cayenne pepper.  In a bowl, whisk together the egg whites, water, mustard and thyme.

Spray a wire rack lightly with cooking spray and place over a rimmed baking sheet.  Working in batches, dredge a few pieces of the chicken in the flour, then the egg whites, and finally the breadcrumbs to coat, shaking off the excess between each step.  Lay the coated pieces on the prepared wire rack and repeat with the remaining chicken.

Spray the tops of the chicken pieces lightly with the cooking spray.  Bake until the chicken is cooked through, 10-12 minutes.  Serve warm.

Chicken Tikka Masala

Chicken Tikka Masala

 

Without a doubt, Indian fare is one of my favorite cuisines. I love the deep layers of flavors and spices—delicious.

But the reasons why I love it so much is also why I have never really prepared Indian food before. I was intimidated. Totally overwhelmed.

Of the scores of recipes I’ve reviewed, the ingredient lists have always thrown me off. A huge laundry list of spices—-all of which I knew were integral to the deep flavors that I loved so much. So whenever I had hankerings for Channa Masala, Curried Paneer, Samosas—-I would head straight to my favorite Indian spot and order up the goodies.

But then the other day I became set on making Homemade Naan for the first time. And in this gal’s opinion, very little goes better with Naan than Chicken Tikka Masala. MMMMM! This popular chicken curry with it’s creamy, tomato sauce is easily my favorite Indian dish. Is it authentically Indian? I don’t think so…..I’ve actually heard that it was created in London. Nonetheless, I love it.

I recalled an episode I saw of America’s Test Kitchen when they prepared Chicken Tikka Masala. It seemed so simple and relied on Garam Masala as the primary spice agent. As Garam Masala is a blend of a variety of spices, there was no need for me to purchase a ton of different seasonings! P-E-R-F-E-C-T!

 

Chicken Tikka Masala

 

While I was preparing this dish, the aromas quickly filled the entire house—- and it smelled amazing! It was fairly easy to prepare and was really flavorful. I was worried that the boneless/skinless chicken would be dried out due to the cooking method. But I was pleasantly surprised to find the meat to be quite moist—probably as a result of the generous coating of yogurt that sealed in the juices. The photos here show the Chicken Tikka Masala served with a Turmeric Rice but Basmati would be perfect with it, too.

In the end, we had a lot of sauce left over and I didn’t want to waste all of that great flavor. So the next day, I lightly grilled some prawns and threw them into the sauce. It was really delicious and became a wonderful seafood option!

All in all—I was quite happy with this Chicken Tikka Masala and will definitely make it again! My Host Family in Chennai would be proud :)

*Friday’s Post: Saag Aloo (Spinach and Potatoes Curry)


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Chicken Tikka Masala
From America’s Test Kitchen: Cooking for Two

Ingredients:

For the Chicken
1/2 Teaspoon Garam Masala
1/8 Teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
Two (6 to 8-ounce) Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts, trimmed
1/2 Cup Plain Yogurt
1 Tablespoon Vegetable Oil
2 Garlic Cloves, minced
2 Teaspoons Grated or Minced Fresh Ginger

For the Sauce
One (14.5-ounce) Can Whole Tomatoes
2 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil
1 Small Onion, minced (about 1/2 cup)
1 Garlic Clove, minced
1 Teaspoon Grated or Minced Fresh Ginger
1 Small Serrano Chile, stemmed, seeded, and minced
1 1/2 Teaspoons Tomato Paste
1 1/2 Teaspoons Garam Masala
1 Teaspoon Sugar
Salt
1/3 Cup Plain Yogurt
2 Tablespoons Chopped Fresh Cilantro


Make the chicken
1. Combine the garam masala, cayenne, and salt in a bowl. Pat the chicken dry with paper towels, then coat the chicken thoroughly with the spices, pressing to help them adhere. Place the chicken on a plate, cover, and refrigerate for 30 to 60 minutes. Whisk the yogurt, oil, garlic, and ginger together in a medium bowl, cover, and refrigerate until needed.

Make the sauce
1. Process the tomatoes with their juice in a food processor until pureed, about 15 seconds. Heat the oil in large saucepan over medium heat until shimmering. Add the onion and cook until softened and lightly browned, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in the garlic, ginger, chile, tomato paste, and garam masala and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

2. Stir in the processed tomatoes, sugar, and 1/4 teaspoon salt, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes. Off the heat, stir in the yogurt and cover to keep warm.

3. Meanwhile, adjust an oven rack to be 6 inches from the broiler element, and heat the broiler. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and top with a wire rack. Using tongs, dip the chicken into the yogurt mixture so that it is thickly coated and arrange on the prepared wire rack; discard any excess yogurt mixture. Broil the chicken until the exterior is lightly charred in spots and the thickest part of the breasts registers 160 to 165 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, 10 to 18 minutes, flipping the chicken halfway through cooking.

4. Let the chicken rest for 5 minutes, then cut into 1-inch chunks. Stir the chicken pieces into the warm sauce (do not simmer the chicken in the sauce). Stir in the cilantro, season with salt to taste, and serve.

NOTE: I’m not sure why, but the ingredients shown on the episode of ATK are slightly different than what is actually published in their cookbook. What you see here is the cookbook method.

Oven Braised Lemon Chicken

Oven Braised Lemon Chicken

 

I often braise chicken because it’s so easy and makes the meat deliciously juicy. And best of all—you only need to use one pot!

 

Oven Braised Lemon Chicken

 

This Oven Braised Lemon Chicken pairs thighs and drumsticks (my favorite chicken cuts) with the bright notes of lemon and capers to produce a wonderfully hearty dish. I also threw in some mushrooms since I’m kind of obsessed with them. But if you’re not a fan, leave them out. It won’t hurt my feelings :)

 

Oven Braised Lemon Chicken

 

Your finished product will be so beautifully tender and flavorful that you’ll be doing a little dance after your first bite. Because if you didn’t know….a little dancing while you eat helps with digestion :)

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Oven Braised Lemon Chicken
Serves 4

Ingredients:

8 Pieces Bone-In Chicken (I prefer thighs and drumsticks)
6 Whole Garlic Cloves
1 Small Onion, thinly sliced
2 Cups Crimini Mushrooms, sliced
4 Sprigs Fresh Rosemary
8 Lemon Slices, seeds removed
1 Dried Bay Leaf
2 Tablespoons Capers, drained
2 Cups Low Sodium Chicken Broth
½ Teaspoon Red Chili Flakes
3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
Kosher Salt and Black Pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Liberally season the chicken with salt and pepper. In a large Dutch Oven heat olive oil to medium high. In batches, brown chicken pieces on both sides and transfer to a plate. Discard all but 2-3 tablespoons of left over grease. Lower heat to medium and add garlic cloves, cooking until lightly golden. Add onions and cook until all items are evenly browned. Add chili flakes and sauté for an additional minute.  Add mushrooms and sauté for an additional 2-3 minutes. Carefully add chicken stock and bring to a boil. With a wooden spoon, scrape the brown bits from the bottom of the pot. Return the chicken to the pot with the skin side up. Add lemon slices, bay leaf, capers, and rosemary sprigs–submerging those items underneath the liquid.  Place lid over the pot and put into the oven for 25-30 minutes or until chicken is done.

Carefully take the pot out of the oven. Remove rosemary sprigs, bay leaves and skim off and discard any fat and impurities from the juices. Check for seasonings and adjust with kosher salt and pepper as necessary.

Plate chicken with sauce and serve with fresh bread or other desired sides.