Super Bowl Salsa Recipe

Are your social networks exploding with Super Bowl recipes? I never knew so many people were obsessed with the NFL. In the food blogger world, the Super Bowl is about much more than the events on the field. It is a chance to showcase some crowd-wowing creations. Every few months, cooks get a chance to flex their cooking and baking muscles. This is your chance to step up. Continue reading Super Bowl Salsa Recipe

How to Make a Mean Chipotle Chili: Recipe

NFL preseason is over. You still think your fantasy football team has a shot. College football is in full swing.

All that can only mean one thing: chili season is here!

I subsist on beans and carbs. This diet may contribute to the hula hoop of personal space my friends often give me and the stares I receive on public transit. No one knows when my next narcoleptic episode will strike.

Continue reading How to Make a Mean Chipotle Chili: Recipe

Chicken Piccata with Asparagus

Chicken piccata

 

Chicken Piccata can seem a daunting dish to new cooks. There are a few steps that may be new to you. Butterflying. Dredging. Searing. Deglazing. But those are just words. Hopefully, this walkthrough removes the fear and helps you unlock some advanced skills to add to your arsenal. Worst case scenario: you burn the food and end up going out for pizza. Sounds like either way you win.

If you’ve never had chicken piccata, it’s a breaded piece of chicken that’s lightly fried. Then the sauce is a rich, thick mix of garlic, lemon, white wine and capers. There are some extra ingredients most recipes call for. They are nice to haves, but not essential. I always hated buying new ingredients for a new dish that now sit in a cabinet.

The key to executing this dish well is prepping your ingredients before your start frying the chicken. As you get more comfortable, you can condense some steps and multi-task. I start heating my pan on low heat before cutting and breading the chicken. If you’ve never made chicken this way, focus on doing one thing at a time. I am fortunate to have a stellar sous chef who assists me with chopping. If you have a friend or date, a lot of meal prep can be done together. This dish is great because we made asparagus as the side dish. So my girlfriend prepped that while I focused on the main dish.

Prep Steps for Chicken Piccata

Depending the size of your chicken breasts, you may need to trim them to a more manageable size. The purpose for this is even cooking and to expedite the nom nom in your mouth. If the chicken is too thick (more than 3/4 inch), it will take longer to cook to temperature (aiming for 165). So what are you going to do if your hormone-filled bird is too big? Place the chicken breast on your cutting board, then, press your flat palm down on the chicken. With a sharp chef’s knife in your other hand, run the knife parallel to the cutting board halfway up the height of the chicken. This will create two thinner fillets of chicken.

Want to skip this step? Cool. To best cook the chicken without burning it on the stove, use an oven-safe pan. After your fry the chicken, pop the pan into a 350 degree oven. Let the chicken cook for 20ish minutes.

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The rest of the steps are pretty straight forward.

The asparagus dish was really good and pretty quick. Again, for new cooks it can seem tough and there are pitfalls to boiling the eggs (optional, but tasty addition) and creating the vinaigrette. If you missed the recipe earlier this week, head over here for the full instructions.
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Chicken piccata
Chicken Piccata with Asparagus
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Servings Prep Time
4 people 20 minutes
Cook Time
30-40 minutes
Servings Prep Time
4 people 20 minutes
Cook Time
30-40 minutes
Chicken piccata
Chicken Piccata with Asparagus
BigOven - Save recipe or add to grocery list
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
4 people 20 minutes
Cook Time
30-40 minutes
Servings Prep Time
4 people 20 minutes
Cook Time
30-40 minutes
Ingredients
The Meat
The Sauce
Servings: people
Instructions
  1. Butterfly the chicken breasts if greater than 3/4 inch thick.
  2. Mix flour, salt and pepper in a big dinner plate.
  3. Beat one egg in a shallow bowl.
  4. Dip chicken into egg. Turn to coat the other side.
  5. Place chicken into flour mixture. Press chicken evenly to coat the entire side. Flip chicken to coat the other side. Shake excess flour off chicken and set aside. Repeat for remaining breasts.
  6. Heat a non-stick pan to medium heat. Allow 3-5 minutes. Then add olive oil and butter. Once the butter is melted, add chicken to the pan. You should hear a distinct "TISSS" sizzle.
  7. Leave the chicken alone for about 5 minutes. Then flip and do the same. Be sure not to crowd the pan. To best crisp the chicken, it needs room in the pan. I used a 12-inch pan and worked in two batches.
    chicken piccata
  8. Add garlic as the chicken nears completion (about 15 minutes in)
  9. You can finish the chicken in the oven. The breasts need to reach 165 degrees. Either way, once the chicken is done, set aside on a clean plate or platter.
The Sauce
  1. In the pan you cooked the chicken, add mushrooms and shallot (or onion). Cook for 3-5 minutes/until mushrooms and shallot soften.
  2. Add white wine, lemon juice, capers and chicken stock. If you splurged on fresh thyme, add it now. Scrape the bottom of the pain as the liquids bubble up.
  3. Continue cooking the sauce over medium heat. The sauce will eventually thicken. Continue intermittently scraping the bottom of the pan.
    piccata sauce
  4. Once the sauce is thick, plate the chicken and spoon over the sauce.
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Beer-Braised Barbacoa Tacos

We are nearly a week and a day out from the showdown of showdowns. The stakes are higher than ever. I am putting my best taco against offerings from home cooks in Chicago to see if years of visits to taqueria’s were worth it. This will be my third attempt in a cooking competition, but this time I have a different strategy on how to win.

Here is the approach I’ll be going with next Sunday. Having eaten my way through most cities, these barbacoa tacos stand up to my favorite taqueria’s tacos. They have a nice amount of heat, moist and tender meat.

The secret to keeping the meat moist is all in the braise, especially for barbacoa. I used most of a 16 oz bottle of Sapporo Premium (a few ounces for myself). Cooking with alcohol is a pro tip to add flavor complexity to whatever you’re making, whether a sauce or a braise. The booze cooks out and imparts its own zip to a dish. Plus, you might as well sample some before putting it in the pot. I have their Reserve beer set aside to take this dish to the next level.

If I don’t win, I will forego eating tacos for an entire month.

If you’re in the Chicago area on April 19, come see if my barbacoa has what it takes to be the best. My stomach and pride depend on it.

barbacoa-recipe
Beer-Braised Barbacoa
BigOven - Save recipe or add to grocery list
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You got the time? I got the recipe for you for barbacoa that may top your favorite taqueria.
Servings Prep Time
6 people 30 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
3-4 hours 3-4 hours
Servings Prep Time
6 people 30 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
3-4 hours 3-4 hours
barbacoa-recipe
Beer-Braised Barbacoa
BigOven - Save recipe or add to grocery list
Print Recipe
You got the time? I got the recipe for you for barbacoa that may top your favorite taqueria.
Servings Prep Time
6 people 30 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
3-4 hours 3-4 hours
Servings Prep Time
6 people 30 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
3-4 hours 3-4 hours
Ingredients
Meat & Spice Rub
Braising goods
Servings: people
Instructions
  1. Mix all the spices in a bowl for the spice rub with a fork. These are the approximate increments I used.
    barbacoa-spice-rub
  2. Generously rub the pork shoulder with the spice rub. Ideally, do this overnight to let the flavors penetrate the meat. I didn't plan ahead and did this day of. The flavors were still sensational.
  3. Whether you let the spice rub sit over night in the fridge or for 15 minutes, let the pork get closer to room temp before searing.
  4. Heat dutch oven on medium-low heat for 5 minutes. Add olive oil in dutch oven.
  5. Add 1/8 tsp chile de arbol peppers to the oil (15-20 seconds).
  6. Add onions to dutch oven. Cook for 3-4 minutes.
  7. Add chopped chipotle peppers and adobo sauce. Stir.
  8. Add spice-rubbed pork shoulder to dutch oven.
    barbacoa
  9. Sear on all 4-6 sides.
  10. Pour in beer, scraping up fawn on the bottom of the pot. Add water.
  11. Bring to a simmer, cover and place into 325 degree oven for 3-4 hours. The meat will get to the desired temperature in this span of time, so you are really looking for the meat to be fall apart tender.
  12. Let the meat rest for 10-20 minutes. Then, with two forks, start pulling apart the meat. Pork shoulder is fatty. Most of the fat will have melted away. Discard the remaining fatty chunks.
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Basic Carbonara Recipe with a Twist

carbonara recipeIt’s been a while since the summer of carbonara. Enough time has passed to make me crave the salty, silky goodness that is carbonara.

The dish is relatively basic once you get the procedure down. See the carbonara recipe below. After that, you can make this repeatedly and easily. It isn’t the healthiest of dishes, so fight the urge to have it every night.

I tried whole wheat noodles last year, but found the familiar regular/processed pasta paired better with the flavors in the sauce. I lean toward linguine or other long, hearty noodles with a good chew.

So what’s the twist, you ask? Last night, while frying up the bacon in a skillet, I added chopped hot capicola. I put it in too early and some of it dissolved into nothingness.

Add capicola toward the very end of frying bacon to get the heat and preserve the capicola’s existence.

The extra twist was to add fresh, torn leaves of basil. I had some leftover from making pizza at my grandma’s. Other variations would be to use pepporoni or other italian meats in combination with bacon. Let’s not get crazy and ditch the core ingredient that makes this great.

Carbonara is a quick dish that can make turn your humdrum weeknight dinner into a transporting feast on the streets of Trastevere outside of Rome.

Carbonara Recipe

carbonara
Basic Carbonara with a Twist
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Perfecting the texture of the carbonara sauce took a few test runs. I've found this ratio of yolks to whole eggs near the mastery of the chefs in Italia.
Servings Prep Time
4 10 minutes
Cook Time
20 minutes
Servings Prep Time
4 10 minutes
Cook Time
20 minutes
carbonara
Basic Carbonara with a Twist
BigOven - Save recipe or add to grocery list
Print Recipe
Perfecting the texture of the carbonara sauce took a few test runs. I've found this ratio of yolks to whole eggs near the mastery of the chefs in Italia.
Servings Prep Time
4 10 minutes
Cook Time
20 minutes
Servings Prep Time
4 10 minutes
Cook Time
20 minutes
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Start a pot of water to boil. Add pasta once water is boiling. Cook as directed, reserving some of the pasta water.
  2. Sautee bacon for 5-7 minutes, adding capicola in the last minute.
  3. In a bowl, whip egg yolks, whole egg, cheese, 1 tsp bacon fat.
  4. Add drained pasta to egg/cheese mixture.
  5. Add bacon/meats and toss with tongs.
  6. Garnish with torn leaves of basil.
  7. Serve and enjoy. It's best to dish this up quickly before the eggs clump and make this a sticky mess.
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