This is my second taco recipe for this blog and it definitely won’t be the last. I make tacos a couple times a month and eat them out twice as often. When I go out for tacos or I’m in the mood for a classic street taco, I usually get carnitas. I love the juicy, almost greasy meat with all of the dark and crispy bits. It’s a flavor and texture combination that can only come from braised pork. Although pork is my number one choice to fill a taco, this chicken recipe is reminiscent of carnitas and in my opinion is just as good. The chicken is cooked pretty much the same way by braising the meat first then reducing the liquid down and frying the meat in it’s own fat. It’s also easy, inexpensive to make and is perfect for feeding a crowd.
This Sunday we’re having taco party #2 with Spicy Braised Chicken Tacos.
8 chicken thighs with skin
2 Tbsp canola oil
2 cups low sodium chicken broth
1 can El Pato tomato sauce with jalapeno
1 red onion, diced and divided in half
1 garlic clove, minced
1 bunch cilantro, chopped
white corn tortillas
Heat oil in heavy bottomed pot and fry the chicken, skin side down, until golden. About ten minutes. Do this in batches if necessary so the chicken browns nicely.
Set the brown chicken aside and saute half of the onion in the chicken fat with the garlic.
Once the onion has softened add the El Pato and scrape up any brown bits from the pan.
Put the chicken back in the pan and add the stock. Stir the liquid to cover the chicken evenly. Bring to a boil then reduce to low and simmer with the top on for 30 minutes until very tender.
Take the chicken out of the pan and discard the skin before removing all the meat from the bone.
Shred the chicken and add it back to the braising liquid.
Turn the heat to high and simmer until all the liquid is evaporated and the meat begins to crisp. Stir the meat a few times making sure to shred it a little more. This takes about 20 minutes. If you’re serving a large party and plan to serve the tacos right away, you can fry the meat until slightly crispy but still juicy. You can also stop the cooking once the liquid has evaporated and store the chicken in the fridge until you’re ready to make tacos again. Just crisp the meat up in a hot pan before serving.
When I make this dish I don’t add any salt. The El Pato is salty enough for my taste but you can add salt and pepper if you feel it needs more seasoning.
Toss the remaining half of the onion with chopped cilantro and sprinkle on your taco along with avocado, hot sauce and fresh lime.
For my first Winter Sunday Dinner I am making Chicken Tortilla Soup. Still recovering from the holidays, I wanted to make something light and budget friendly. This recipe only costs around $20 and makes 12 servings. It is also the perfect cure if you’re like me and nursing a cold.
This Sunday I’m starting the new year off right with my super easy and delicious, Chicken Tortilla Soup
Rinse your chicken and put in a large stock pot with quartered onion, peppercorns, smashed garlic and water. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer for one hour until chicken is tender and starting to fall apart.
Remove chicken from pot and allow to cool enough so you can remove the meat.
While the chicken is cooling, skim the fat from your chicken broth and strain the solids through a sieve. Set broth aside.
Remove all the meat from the chicken and set aside.
Rinse and wipe out your soup pot.
Saute the onions, carrot and minced garlic in 2Tbsp oil until soft.
Add tomato paste and stir into the vegetables.
Whisk in all the broth and bring to a simmer
Add chicken, then salt and pepper to taste.
Simmer soup for 5 minutes before serving.
I like to use sour cream, serrano chilis, avocado, cilantro, green onion, lots of hot sauce and of course tortillas. You can use your favorite tortilla chips and sprinkle them on top but I prefer to slice white corn tortillas into strips and fry them in oil until slightly golden.
This Sunday we’re using the last of the Thanksgiving turkey for Turkey Curry Pot Pie. With it’s buttery crust, rich gravy and a hint of curry, this dish is sure to become a holiday favorite.
Prep time: 30 minutes Cook time: about 1 hour Serves: 4 (Makes about 4 cups)
For the filling:
1 clove garlic minced
1 small yellow onion diced
1 carrot peeled and diced
1/2 cup frozen petite peas
2 Tbsps butter
1/3 cup flour
1 cup turkey or chicken stock
3/4 cup of half and half
1 Tbsp. curry powder (make sure it is less than 3 months old. Spices become weak and develop a funny flavor if they have been sitting in your cabinet for a year)
Salt and pepper
2 cups leftover turkey
Egg wash (I egg beaten with 2Tbsps water)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Melt butter in a large pot over medium high heat. Add garlic, onions, carrots and peas then saute until onions are translucent and peas are warmed through. Whisk in flour and curry powder until lightly browned, about 1 minute. Add stock and whisk constantly for 30 seconds before adding milk. Continue to whisk for about 2 minutes then add turkey. Salt and pepper to taste then fill ramekins with turkey mixture and set aside while making the pastry.
For the pastry:
1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 stick of cold butter cut into cubes
6 Tbsps cold water
Mix salt and flour in a large mixing bowl.
Using a pastry cutter or a fork, mix butter and flour until it resembles wet sand. The butter pieces should be smaller then peas.
Add 3 Tablespoons of water first, adding more as necessary. You don’t want the dough to be too wet or dry. Mix until it comes together and starts to form a dough.
Put dough onto a floured surface and form into a ball. You do not need to chill the dough at this point.
Roll the dough out to 12 inches. Cut circles large enough to cover your ramekin and hang over the sides about half an inch
Cover the filled ramekins with the dough and press against the sides of the dish to seal the pie. Cut two little holes in the dough and brush with egg wash. Sprinkle with salt and bake for 45 minutes to an hour until the crust is golden and filling is bubbly.
This Sunday I’m making my version of the classic Soupe à l’oignon with caramelized onions, rich veal stock, whiskey, and Guinness. Topped with French bread and melted Gruyere cheese, French onion soup is perfect for Sunday Dinner
In a heavy bottomed pot melt 1 stick of butter in 2 tablespoons of oil. Add onions, garlic then thyme and cook on low until a rich golden brown. This will take about an hour.
Once the onions are nice and brown add the whiskey and scrape up any brown bits in the pot. Simmer for 2 minutes before adding the beer.
Bring onions and beer to a boil then reduce heat medium-low and simmer with the top off for about 20 minutes.
Add veal stock and bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes
Salt and pepper to taste.
Slice and toast baguette. Set aside. I used three slices of baguette for each ramekin. You can also use one large slice of french bread. I slice the bread about 1/4 of an inch thick for a 6 ounce ramekin. If you’re using a large bowl you can go a little thicker. Really it depends on what bread to soup ratio you prefer.
Fill 6 ramekins or oven safe bowls with soup. Top with toasted bread and lots of Gruyere cheese.
Ragù alla bolognese is my absolute favorite thing to make during the fall and winter months. It is customarily served with tagliatelle but today I am using fresh fettucini. Classic Bolognese is made by braising minced meat in wine, beef stock and tomato concentrate resulting in a rich, velvety sauce. This recipe takes time but the process is simple and worth the effort.
Roughly chop onion, carrots and garlic before adding to a food processor.
Puree vegetables until they form a paste
Heat olive oil in heavy bottomed pot. Add butter and saute vegetables until lightly browned removing all the liquid. About 10 minutes.
While the vegetables are browning, mix the beef, veal and pancetta until well combined.
Add meat mixture to the vegetables and saute until brown. About 15 minutes.
Add wine and simmer on high for 3-5 minutes scraping up any brown bits. The liquid should reduce by half
Add tomato paste and stir into the meat.
Add stock and turn your heat to high bringing the liquid to a simmer.
Add thyme, reduce your heat to low and gently simmer for about 2 hours
When your liquid has reduced down and the sauce is almost dry, season with salt and pepper to taste.
Bring cream and nutmeg to a simmer in a small sauce pan; gradually add to sauce and simmer for another 10 minutes allowing the meat to absorb the cream. The sauce should be thick and coat your pasta nicely. If you think it looks too runny you can let it simmer with the top off until the sauce thickens.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Season with salt; add pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, until al dente. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup pasta water. Toss pasta with about 1 cup of sauce to coat. Stir in some of the reserved pasta water by tablespoonfuls if sauce seems dry. Divide pasta among warm plates. Top with more sauce and sprinkle with Parmesan.
After a four week-long meat fest I’m in the mood for something a little lighter this weekend. Not every Sunday dinner has to be a major production. But I still want something soothing and homey that will warm me up on these increasingly cold days. So I decided to use the last good Heirloom tomatoes of the season for a Roasted Heirloom Tomato Bisque. Served with a classic grilled cheese sandwich, this soup makes a warm and comforting Sunday dinner.
Roasted Heirloom Tomato Bisque
4 pounds Heirloom Tomatoes, quartered
2 large carrots pealed and diced
1/2 yellow onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
3 Tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1 cup of low sodium chicken stock
1/2 cup heavy cream
Toss tomatoes in oil and salt and roast at 400 degrees for one hour. Make sure you get them nice and caramelized.
While the tomatoes are roasting, saute your onions an carrots with 1tbsp olive oil in a soup pot until lightly browned. Add garlic and saute for about a minute. Turn off the heat and set aside until your tomatoes are done.
When the tomatoes are done add them to your carrot and onions with 1 cup of chicken stock and simmer for 5 minutes.
Allow the the soup to cool before blending in a food processor or a blender. You will need to do this in batches so have another pot ready to pour your blended tomatoes in. You want to get the soup as smooth as possible before pouring it through a fine sieve to remove the solids. This process extracts all the good flavor before adding the cream.
Once you have removed the solids from your soup, put it in a clean pot and warm through and add 1/2 cup of cream. Season with salt if necessary.
I make Carnitas about once a month. It’s a great way to serve a large group on a budget or you can store the leftovers in the refrigerator and make tacos all week. If eating tacos more than once or twice in a week seems a little dull, try adding carnitas to Chilaquiles or make Carnitas Hash for brunch. Or you can try my most recent invention, Carnitas Bánh Mì. A delicious Vietnamese style sandwich made with leftover carnitas in place of the traditional barbecued pork. I serve it on a soft, toasted French roll with carrot-cilantro slaw, jalapenos and Sriracha.
But first, get ready because this Sunday we’re having a taco party!
In this recipe we are going to braise the pork first with the top on for about 3 hours until tender and falling of the bone. After removing the bone we are going to take the top off, simmer the pork on high and reduce the liquid until it has all evaporated. Once the liquid has reduced down we will fry the pork in it’s own fat and juices to make a crispy outer layer for our juicy carnitas.
12 ounces beer (dark beer is best like Negro Modelo but if you have Bud in the fridge go ahead and use it)
1 cup chicken stock
3 cups water divided
2 tablespoons salt
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 yellow onion peeled and cut into quarters
3 large garlic cloves peeled and chopped
Mix salt, cumin and pepper to make a spice rub
Rub spice mixture all over the pork and let it sit while you prepare your garlic and onions
Place pork, fat side down in a large heavy bottomed pot. I used a 5 quart Le Creuset.
Add garlic and onions to the pot then add beer, stock and 2 cups water. You want your liquid to come just short of covering the pork. Leave about 2 inches of meat exposed.
Bring liquid to a boil then reduce heat and simmer on low. You will need to adjust the heat a little in order to keep the pork at a simmer. You want a consistent simmer for about 3 hours with the lid on.
About every 30 minutes or so turn the pork for even cooking. You may need to add some water if too much steam is escaping or if your heat got a little too high at some point. If the liquid looks low add your remaining cup of water to the pot. Make sure you bring the liquid back to a simmer.
When the meat is getting really tender and the bone easily pulls away from the meat, take the pork out and remove the bone. Cut the meat into a few large chunks before returning it to the pot. You will see a lot of fat on the meat at this point. Don’t remove it. You need it for the next step in this recipe and it will keep the carnitas moist and delicious.
Put the boneless meat back into the pot and simmer with the top on for about 15 minutes
After 15 minutes, take the top off and turn the heat to high. This stage can be a little nerve wracking the first time because you are going to let the meat simmer on high with the top off for about 30 minutes or until the liquid has almost disappeared.
When the liquid is getting low, you can break up the pork and shred it using two forks or tongs. Most of the onion and garlic will have broken down at this point and sort of melted into the meat adding extra flavor so don’t bother fishing them out.
Now that all your liquid has evaporated you can do one of two things. If you’re cooking for a big party and the meat is going to be served right away, continue to cook the meat on high and fry the pork in its own fat to get the crispy bits. If you want to keep some leftovers the thing to do at this point is stop the cooking after the liquid has evaporated and crisp up as much as you want to use in a separate pan. Then you can store the rest of the pork in the refrigerator until you’re ready for tacos again. Either way, a crisp, brown outer layer is what you are going for. Don’t fry the meat too long or it will be dry. 1-2 minutes of frying on high should be fine.
Leftover Carnitas? Check out this recipe for Carnitas Bánh Mì with Carrot-Cilantro Slaw
For the Slaw:
If you have time let the salad sit in the fridge overnight to let the carrots pickle a little.
10 ounce bag of shredded carrots
1/4 cup of canola oil
1/4 cup of white vinegar
1/2 cup diced red onion
1/2 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
Whisk oil, lemon juice, and vinegar to make a vinaigrette. Toss with remaining ingredients and 1/2 teaspoon of salt.
I think Fried Chicken is quite possibly the ultimate Sunday dinner. It’s the kind of dish that is delicious on it’s own but is usually served with lots of good sides like mashed potatoes, gravy, biscuits or anything with flour in it basically. Except of course for the coleslaw which I will be getting to shortly.
As much as I love fried chicken It isn’t a dish I make often and it hasn’t really turned out that great in the past. There are probably thousands of fried chicken recipes on the internet with lots of tips on how to get the best fried chicken. Some tips I have found to be useful and others not so much. After lots of research and many failed attempts I have finally created what I think is a fool proof recipe.
There are a few steps that are essential for good fried chicken. The first step is marinating the chicken for 24 hours. If you want to make fried chicken you need to plan ahead and let the chicken marinate for a day. It really does make a difference.
The next step is the batter. There is a lot of talk about the double dip. Dipping in flour then back in the buttermilk and flour again. I actually find this method to make the chicken too crunchy. I have found if you flour your chicken and let it sit in the fridge for 30 minutes then pat it well with flour again and let it sit for another 30 minutes the crust comes out crispy not crunchy.
The last thing I do is let the chicken rest on a rack for 20-30 minutes after cooking. All the juices and oil settle and the chicken will be moist and flavorful.
For this recipe I used 4 thighs and 4 legs. You can also use a whole chicken cut up in 8 pieces.
4 chicken thighs
4 Chicken legs
4 cups buttermilk
2 tablespoons Sriracha
2 tablespoons dijon mustard
8 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves removed
2 cloves garlic
1 yellow onion sliced
2 Tablespoons salt
Lots of black pepper (I like peppery chicken but add to your taste)
Put all ingredients in blender except the onion and blend until smooth. Poor over Chicken
Slice onion and add to the chicken.
Chill for 24 hours
3 cups flour
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Lots of black pepper
4 cups peanut oil for frying (you want about 1 inch of oil in the pan. You can use a deep heavy bottomed skillet or dutch oven. Avoid really deep pots. You will need to be able to check and turn your chicken easily with tongs
Whisk the flour and spices to combine
Put the flour in a brown paper bag large enough for the 8 pieces of chicken
Remove chicken from marinade and shake off the excess milk before dropping in the flour
Give the bag a really good shake to coat your chicken. Take a peak inside and make sure they’re getting well covered. I also use my hands and really pat the chicken with the flour
Put the chicken pieces in the refrigerator for one hour. Make sure to separate the chicken. Don’t just pile it up on a plate. The chicken needs a little room to create a nice crust.
After the chicken has been in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes pull it out and pat it with the flour again. You don’t need to go through shaking the bag again just turn them in the flour and make sure the chicken is well covered.
When you’re ready to fry heat your oil to 350 degrees. You can get a thermometer at most grocery stores these days and definitely a restaurant supply store.
Place chicken in heated oil skin side down
Cook the chicken on one side for about 7-8 minutes. 10-12 for breast. You do need to keep an eye on it to make sure the chicken browns evenly.
Turn chicken over and cook for another 7-8 minutes
Place chicken on a rack and allow to rest for 20 minutes before serving
You can make your slaw. This recipe is really about the dressing. I use it for broccolli slaw or cabbage and it makes a great dressing for potato salad. I’m using radicchio in this post because I had it and it’s so pretty.
I cup mayonnaise ( I use Best Food’s because well it’s the best. If you use another brand that’s fine but don’t use a mayonnaise made with safflower oil. It has a very strong taste and doesn’t work well with this dressing. Or any dressing really.
1/2 cup white vinegar
juice of two lemons
I jalapeño seeded (or not seeded if you want more heat)
1 cup packed cilantro
1 teaspoon of salt
1/2 teaspoon of pepper
4 green onions
Put all ingredients in a blender or food processor except onions. Blend until very smooth.
Clean and chop green onions and using only the white and light green part, toss with radicchio and dressing.
As I mentioned earlier this dressing is really good for potato salad. Especially red potatoes. Just add this dressing and green onions to your cooked potatoes and mash.
Fortunately you have all the ingredients for a fried chicken sandwich!
Toast and butter a hamburger bun then top with chicken and radicchio slaw.
It’s that time of year again when pumpkin seems to be the star ingredient in many recipes. Pumpkin bread, pumpkin ravioli, pumpkin pie, even pumpkin tempura. To be honest by November I’m a little pumpkined out. But this recipe is something I look forward to every year. It is a perfect side dish for Thanksgiving or in this case a fall Sunday dinner. The earthiness of the toasted walnuts and fresh sage combined with a hint of spice from the nutmeg and sausage are perfect with the sweet pumpkin and cream. This Sunday we’re celebrating fall with my favorite pumpkin dish.
Rigatoni With Pumpkin Cream Sauce, Sweet Italian Sausage, Toasted Walnuts and Fresh Sage
1/2 pound mild Italian sausage
1/2 pound hot Italian sausage
1 shallot minced
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup toasted walnuts bashed up
5 sprigs fresh sage, chopped
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 cup heavy cream
Brown hot and mild sausage in a large heavy bottomed skillet. Drain fat leaving 2 tablespoons in the pan. Alternatively drain all fat and add 2 tablespoons olive oil. Set sausage aside.
Sauté shallot until soft not brown.
Add white wine and reduce by half. About three minutes.
Whisk in pumpkin and chicken stock then simmer for about five minutes. You may need to add more stock which is why the recipe calls for 1/2-1 cup stock. You are going for something similar to a Bolognese once you add the sausage. Start with 1/2 cup of stock and gradually add more if the pumpkin sauce looks too thick.
Whisk in cream, then nutmeg, walnuts and sage one at a time. You can season the sauce with salt at this point. Don’t be too heavy handed as sausage tends to be pretty salty. About 1 teaspoon should be plenty. I don’t add pepper because again I think the sausage is peppery enough.
Add sausage and warm through.
Rigatoni is perfect for this sauce. Prepare pasta according to package. Toss a small amount of sauce to coat pasta before serving then add more sauce on top. Sprinkle with more walnuts and sage if desired.
When I think of Sunday dinners the smell of Beef Bourguignon braising away on the stove or a leg of lamb roasting in the oven immediately come to mind. However, in the late summer months the thought of having my oven on at 350 degrees for several hours is not very appetizing. So this Sunday I’m taking the roast outside for Barbecued leg of lamb with Greek yogurt-feta sauce.
This recipe is best when the lamb is marinated over night. If possible get started the day before you plan to barbecue so the lamb can marinate for 24 hours.
Barbecued leg of lamb
1- 5 lb boneless, butterflied leg of lamb
2 cups Greek yogurt
6 sprigs fresh rosemary
1/2 cup of fresh lemon juice
4 cloves garlic
2 teaspoons salt (Seems like a lot but this is a big piece of meat)
1 teaspoon black pepper
Combine yogurt, rosemary, lemon juice and garlic in a blender or food processor. Poor over lamb and refrigerate for 24 hours. Turn the lamb in the marinade a couple of times to coat evenly
An hour before you are ready to grill, take the lamb out of the marinade and pat it dry. Sprinkle with 2 teaspoons of salt, 1 teaspoon of pepper and let it sit at room temperature for one hour.
While the lamb is waiting patiently in the kitchen you can start your grill. Get your coals nice and hot. The lamb has a lot of fat that will drip into the coals causing flare ups. You want to get a nice sear on the lamb so don’t be alarmed if it starts to look a bit dark on the outside. The combination of the juicy medium-rare meat with the crispy, even a little charred crust is what you’re going for.
Cook the lamb on one side for 20 minutes. Flip once and continue cooking for another 20-25 minutes for medium rare or when a meat thermometer reads 125. I highly recommend using a meat thermometer. The barbecue is hot and poking the meat with your finger several times to see if it’s done is painful if not dangerous near an open flame.
Cover the lamb loosely with foil and let it rest for about 15 minutes before slicing. This very large, oddly shaped piece of meat can seem a bit daunting when it comes time to carve. You’ll see that the grain even goes in different directions when the leg is butterflied. To make the task a little easier separate the leg into threes and carve each piece separately. Serve with Greek yogurt-feta sauce.
Greek yogurt-feta sauce
8 ounces feta cheese
8 ounces Greek yogurt
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup fresh mint
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Combine all ingredients in a blender and serve over barbecued lamb.