Saturday, September 27, 2014

Adobo Chicken and Rice


It is not pretty, but damn is it ever convenient.

So most of what I have posted to date has been recipes I have either loved or found unique. This is neither of those. This is easy, like your mom. BURN! It is filing. It resents the four "classic" food groups. The wifey likes it. It makes for great left overs. I could go on. Point is this is a quick easy type thing not a gourmet kind of thing.


Resources:
1 container (8 oz.) yellow rice
1 tablespoons oil (roughly)

1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, diced
2 teaspoons Adobo All-Purpose Seasoning without pepper

1/4 medium green bell pepper, finely chopped
1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese


Method:
Over medium heat, bring 2 cups water to boil. Add contents of yellow rice mix; return water to boil. Reduce heat to simmer. Cook, covered, until water is absorbed and rice is tender, about 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat oil in medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add bell peppers and onions to skillet. Cook for a minute or two. Add chicken and Adobo. Mix well. Cook, stirring, until vegetables are soft and chicken is cooked through, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and drain.
Stir in cooked chicken and veggies into the rice until combined. Mix in cheese a handful at a time, stirring until melted. Serve warm.

Commentary:
Make sure you pan is big enough for everything, ie if it is nearly full with just the rice it is not big enough. Or you can do it the opposite route and add the rice to the chicken, whatever is easier.

We've tried a couple different brands of yellow rice, but this one is our preferred.


By "our" I mean the wifey's as I cannot tell the difference between this and the other Vigo Yellow Rice.
I usually mix up the cheese. We usually use half shredded cheddar and shredded half reduced fat Mexican blend. Why those two? Those are the two cheeses we always have in the house.

Although pretty easy, this does require a fair bit of slicing an dicing.

I cheated and used pre-shredded cheese.

I frequently make this in double batches. One batch is just about right (or maybe a bit much) for the two of us. A double batch allows for a couple meals of leftovers as well.


So we make this a fair bit and I decided to buy the bulk Adobo seasoning. The lid did not like me. :(

Oh what a nice lid you have. The better for measuring spoons.
Right?

Oh look, it is even conveniently labeled which one is the spoon side. How nice.

DENIED!!!

Conclusion:
Happy wifey! Leftovers galore! Minimal effort and cleanup! What is not to love?

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Chili-Dusted Pork Chops


Served with carrots because I am lazy.
I love pork. There is something special about eating Babe for me. And while I do love bacon, the internet gets it wrong. It is not bacon that is magic, but the pig in general. Consider this nugget of wisdom from the Simpsons:

Homer: Lisa, honey, are you saying you're never going to eat any animal again? What about bacon?
Lisa: No.
Homer: Ham?
Lisa: No.
Homer: Pork chops?
Lisa: Dad! Those all come from the same animal!
Homer: [chuckling] Yeah, right, Lisa. A wonderful, magical animal.

So let us have a pork chop!

Aside: before you dismiss this dish as too spicy: there is very little heat in this recipe. I was a little surprised. It is all citrus. So if crazy, ultra-super, ├╝ber sensitive to heat like my almost ninety year old grandmother, do not eat this. Otherwise feel free to proceed.

Resources:
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Four 1/2-pound boneless pork loin chops, cut 1 1/4 inches thick
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
Finely grated zest and juice of 1 lime (about a 1/2 teaspoon of zest)
3 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro (or less)

Method:
Preheat the oven to 400°. In a small bowl, mix the chili powder with the cumin, salt and pepper. Sprinkle the spice mixture all over both sides of the pork chops.
 
In a large ovenproof skillet, heat the olive oil. Add the pork chops and cook over high heat until browned, about 1 minute per side. Add the garlic, lime zest, lime juice, and cilantro to the skillet and roast the chops in the center of the oven for 10 minutes, or until rosy throughout. Transfer to plates and serve.

Commentary:
Also I am going to be honest, I never use FRESH ground pepper. I always use the canned stuff.

As for the lime, I get a small one. Then zest most of the skin and then measure out a half teaspoon. I do not go crazy trying to squeeze out all the juice either.

This rub is kind of sticky. Do NOT drag you chops though it: sprinkle. The first time I made this I drug them through and had all kinds of clumpy pockets of seasoning. So sprinkle: do not rub, drag, shake, cha-cha, or otherwise not sprinkle.

Seriously, if you are half paying attention you can do a better job than this.
Above you might notice six pork chops as opposed to four. You will also not they are paper thin. Well long story short: my grocery sucks. That is a grand total of 0.8 lbs of meat. Sigh. They had some better cuts that were bone in, but as previously noted: lazy. I had to adjust the cooking time and as a result the garlic was a little firm.

I always use my Dutch oven for this recipe. Dutch oven: giggle, giggle. It is just easier having a pot I can take straight from the stove top to the oven. Plus it is less cleaning than transferring to a baking dish.
Dutch oven on the left: no plastic.
Typical pot on the right: lots of plastic.
One goes in the oven just fine, the other not so much: poison gas.

I hear that little voice out there in internet landing saying "Excuse me you say 'or less' on the cilantro, why?" (Little voice. Get it? I amuse myself greatly!) Well that is because as much as I love cilantro it can overwhelm this dish when in combination with the lime. I generally shoot for enough on each chop that I think each bite will have a little.


Let us talk chicken for a moment. In a desire to share this wonderful recipe with the wifey, who does not eat pork, I made it with chicken one day. It did not go well. The citrus completely overwhelmed EVERYTHING. It was like sucking on a lime that had been sprinkled with cilantro. If I ever go chicken again I will cut back heavily on the lime juice, zest, and cilantro.

Conclusion:
If you eat pork, you should make this now. If you do not eat pork that means more left overs for breakfast the next day for the pork eaters in your house,,so you should also selflessly make this now. Everyone wins!

Friday, September 12, 2014

White Macaroni and Cheese

Your goal is to eat it all!
So comfort foods are a fantastic thing and mac 'n cheese is king among them. Seriously pasta is comfort food, cheese is comfort food, and mac 'n cheese is pretty much just large quantities of both. How can you go wrong? Plus the wifey loves it and she was not feeling well the other day. Hence you get a blog entry.

While I like the Kraft boxed stuff, you can do much better. So a while back I went on a mission to find the perfect mac 'n cheese recipe. I think I got pretty close. I started with a Rachel Ray recipe and tweaked it to my taste. The crunchy topping was a bit I am quite proud of. I also added the word white to the title to make it sound racist.
 
Resources:
2 chicken breasts (~1.5 lbs)1 pound elbow macaroni1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
3 1/2 tablespoons flour
1 1/2 cups 2% milk (or whole)
0.8 lbs (or 3 cups shredded) white cheddar cheese, divided
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
Salt
2 tablespoons fine bread crumbs
1/4 teaspoon basil
1/4 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon parsley

Method:
Cook chicken and finely dice.

Cook pasta al dente (ie still a little firm). Drain.

Heat a medium, deep skillet (or a pot) over medium heat. Add oil and butter. When butter melts into the oil, add flour and combine. Gently cook, whisking flour and butter together, until smooth and flour has had a chance to cook, about 1-2 minutes. Slowly add milk while continuing to whisk. Gently bring milk to a bubble while stirring frequently. Allow the milk to thicken a bit, then stir in 2 1/2 cups of shredded cheddar cheese a handful at a time continuing to stir. Season sauce with nutmeg and cayenne. Add salt to taste. Add cooked pasta and chicken to sauce and coat completely by turning over and over in the cheese sauce. Continue mixing until warmed throughout.

Transfer to a baking dish and top with remaining cheese. Press down mixture. Mix the basil, oregano, parsley, and bread crumbs. Sprinkle on top.  Place baking dish under a hot broiler and brown the cheddar cheese on top. Serve right away.


Commentary:

Do NOT use cheap cheese. You do not have to use the most expensive thing you find, but do use the discount brand pre-shredded either. At my grocery there is usually two Vermont white cheddars. One is aged and the price is ridiculous. The other is not aged (or aged less I forget) and is just fine. Seriously we are talking less than a pound, spring for the decent stuff.

I add the milk to the flour / butter usually in four or five parts. Be sure to mix thoroughly each time before adding more. Here is an exciting frame by frame!

Flour & Butter
A little milk

Roughly half the milk
All the milk. Was not that exciting?
You have to love imperial measurements. Three teaspoons is a tablespoon, sixteen tablespoons is a cup. So random. So meaningless. Anyway one thing the wifey brought to the marriage was a half tablespoon measuring spoon. If you do not have one, get one. I love it. It comes helpful especially when halving recipes.

A rare and precious treasure!

Evidence my stove is not level.
I mention pushing down on the mixture. You are going for density here. I usually do it before and after the cheese.


Push it real good.
 
In my head there was no way cayenne and nutmeg were going to make a good flavor combination. Yet it works. Both flavors come through a little. So if you strongly dislike one or the other reduce a little, but do not skip.


Mac 'n cheese's odd couple.




In the first picture you saw the coloration of the crunchy topping I use. Be careful. This goes from no color to burnt under a broiler very quickly. That is the reason I do not suggest preheating the oven. I seriously check it roughly once a minute. Trust me you do not want to serve the wifey burnt crunchy topping when she is already feeling poorly!

Speaking of the topping, that a total shot in the dark that worked. Feel free to mix it up a bit.

Conclusion:
Good for what ails you.