Chicken Nuggets

Merideth and I’s schedules got a little crazy in the month of October, so instead of our usual Saturday night Skype date, we made quick weeknight dinners! Nothing better for some comfort food than chicken nuggets and some cut up veggies. This easy and versatile chicken nugget recipe came in handy for a breakfast biscuit (more on that soon!)

Ingredients

  • 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed of fat
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 eggs, whisked
  • 1 cup bread crumbs
  • Canola oil for frying

Instructions

  1. Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Set aside a plate covered in a few layers of paper towels to absorb oil after frying.
  2. Cut chicken breasts into bite size chunks.
  3. Set ingredients into three bowls, left to right: flour, eggs, and bread crumbs.
  4. Dredge chicken nuggets first in flour, then egg mixture, and then bread crumbs until thoroughly covered. Set aside.
  5. Using tongs, place nuggets into hot oil and heat for approximately 2-3 minutes on each side or until golden brown. Note: the oil will lose heat, so wait for oil to reheat in between batches and keep a close eye on the frying process.
  6. Place nuggets on paper towel-lined plate to remove excess oil. Enjoy!

 

Greek Chicken Burger

It was burger week for Amanda and me with our latest Distance Dishes date. While I don’t crave them often, something about that warm, summer air that has been moving in made me want to bite into a nice, juicy burger. While classic beef burgers are all well and good, we wanted to experiment with some alternatives for when red meat just won’t do.

Amanda got creative with a vegetarian version soon to come, but Mediterranean flavors were calling my name. With a heavily seasoned patty topped with a refreshing tzatziki, this burger packs an amazing flavor punch while still feeling refreshing. Biting into this delicious sandwich topped with fresh vegetables is quite the reward for standing over a hot grill (or pan).

One tip I will say Amanda and I both learned is not make your patties too thick or you’ll be waiting forever for that middle to cook. I had to delay our skype date because I was waiting for a safe internal temperature forever. The picture above is an eight ounce patty, but I’ve adjusted the recipe below. Learn from my mistakes ūüėČ

Greek Chicken Burger Patty:

  • 1 lb ground chicken
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 mini bell pepper, minced
  • 1/4 cup cooked spinach, chopped
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp pepper

Instructions: 

  1. In a large bowl, hand mix together all ingredients so that everything is well incorporated into the meat.
  2. Form into 4 patties and cook in a pan or grill over medium heat until internal temperature reaches 165¬įF. Then, they are ready for assembly.

Tzatziki

  • 1/4 cucumber, shredded
  • 1 cup greek yogurt
  • juice of half a lemon
  • 2 tbsp fresh chopped dill

Instructions: 

  1. Whisk together all ingredients and chill until ready to use.

Assembly/Toppings:

  • Ciabatta Rolls
  • Tomato
  • Red onion slices
  • Lettuce
  • Tzatziki

Assemble as desired and top burger with Tzatziki. If you’d like, serve with the Grilled Balsamic Zucchini and enjoy!

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Wine Pairing: For this meal, I wanted to try out a new pitcher and actually made a Summery Wine Punch (below) to add to the summery vibes. However, for a true pairing, actually a Pinot Noir might stand up to the tartness of the Tzatziki  while also balancing out the flavor profile. 

Summer Wine Punch: 

  • 1 bottle of dry white wine
  • 1 qt pink lemonade
  • 4 oz pineapple juice
  • Fresh, sliced strawberries for garnish

Add all ingredients into a pitcher, stir and serve with ice.

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Japanese Style Curry & Chicken Katsu with Satay Spices

This weekend, I found myself home alone which has become a bit more rare in married life. Therefore, Amanda and I got to talking about meals we like to make when no one else is home and we have the whole kitchen and day to ourselves. While I like to use these home alone days to delve into new culinary experiments, I do often love to use this time to treat myself to an old comforting favorite that I could probably eat every night of the week. Of course, for me, this means one of two meals: Curry, or Chicken Satay.

While these two meals are hardly exotic or out of the realm of Amanda’s and my normal cooking, I wanted to combine these two favorites to create the ultimate comfort meal with leftovers enough to entertain me for the rest of the weekend should I decide sip wine and watch rom-coms for the rest of the time alone. This can be as hands off as you’d like once you get past making the roux (which can be done in advance or you can buy this part), or you can go more traditional with the actual frying of the chicken if you’re feeling it. The possibilities are what you’d like to make of it! The results are something I’ll certainly be adding to my comfort food rotation and I hope you like it too.

Satay Spice Blend

  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper, if desired

Satay Marinated Chicken Katsu Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp Satay spice blend
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
  • 1 tbsp low sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 1 tbsp Mirin
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts butterflied and pounded thin
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups of panko breadcrumbs
  • Salt & pepper
  • 2-3 tbsp butter (if pan frying)

Instructions:

  1. In a small bowl mix together the spice blend, cilantro, water, soy sauce, mirin, and sesame oil until blended.
  2. Place the butterflied and pounded chicken breasts into a large zip-top bag or a shallow dish and pour the marinade over the chicken. Make sure the chicken is fully covered by the marinade and allow to sit in the refrigerator (covered/sealed) for 8-24 hours.
  3. Once the time has passed, prepare 3 shallow dishes (or paper plates for easy cleanup). Add your flour to one, the egg to the second (and scramble it) and the panko with some salt and pepper to taste to the third. Remove the chicken from the marinated and try to shake off any excess liquid.
  4. Dip the chicken first into the flour and shake off the excess, then dip into the egg and then the panko ensuring even coating at each step. Repeat with additional breasts.
  5. The traditional Katsu is fried, but you can either pan fry with 2-3 tbsp of butter over medium heat for about 3-4 minutes on each side or you can bake on a greased wire rack over a baking sheet at 350¬įF for 30 minutes if you want a lower maintenance approach. Slice and serve with the curry.

Curry Roux:

  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 4 tbsp flour
  • 1 tbsp garam masala
  • 1 tbsp satay spice blend

Instructions: 

  1. Over low heat, heat the flour and butter in a small saucepan,stirring constantly so it does not burn.
  2. Once the butter has melted, continue stirring over heat for 20-30 minutes. The mixture should thicken and take on a light brown color.
  3. Add the garam masala and satay spices and heat for about 30 more seconds until the mixture is thick and there is little liquid left.
  4. Allow to cool and use immediately or refrigerate until needed. It will keep in the fridge in a sealed container for up to a week or you can freeze for up to a year if needed.

Curry Sauce:

  • 1 yellow onion, peeled and cut into thin slices
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • Remainder of satay spice blend
  • Curry roux from above or store-bought cubes.
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 3-4 carrots, peeled and sliced into 1/2″ chunks, soaked in water for at least 30 minutes to remove starch
  • 2 medium russet potatoes, peeled and sliced into 1/2″ chunks
  • 1 tsp of salt
  • 1 tsp vegetable oil
  • Cooked white rice to serve

Instructions: 

  1. Over medium heat in a large saucepan, add the oil, onions and spices to the pan and cook until the onions are semi-translucent and fragrant.
  2. Add the carrots and potatoes to the pan and saute for 2-3 minutes.
  3. Add the broth, roux and salt to the pan and bring to a simmer. Stir to incorporate the roux, and simmer for 20 minutes until the vegetables are soft.
  4. Serve with white rice and the breaded chicken. Enjoy!

Alternate Pressure Cooker instructions: 

  1. If you’re looking to have a maintenance free night, saute the onions, oil and spices in the pressure cooker. Then add all other ingredients and cook on high pressure for 20 minutes. Valve release the pressure and spoon over white rice and add your chicken.

Wine Pairing: Since these flavors are pretty unique and loud by themselves, I’d go with a Pinot Grigio to lighten it up a bit.¬†

Grown Up “Spaghetti-O’s”

For this week, Amanda and I were looking to make a dish that could be served in a bowl. She went above and beyond and made an amazing Gumbo, so I wanted to go for a more simple, weeknight vibe. When I think back on an easy, comforting dinner in a bowl from my childhood, that can of Spaghetti-O’s which were only minutes from de-tinning to dinner table came to mind.

Of course, posting an article about opening a can would have made for a very easy Distance Dishes skype date with Amanda but probably not the best writing, so I wanted to adult-up this classic a bit. I’ve recently been on a spinach kick so I thought that might be an easy, delicious way to add some nutrition and color to perhaps make that glass of wine with dinner a little less guilt-inducing. Additionally, this recipe can easily be vegan-ified by using non-dairy milk and omitting the sausages if you prefer.

The beauty of this dish is it can be as simple or as complicated as you like. The recipe calls for some tomato sauce which can be bought or homemade. I made a Basic Tomato Sauce to go in this dish which can be built upon your tastes, or you go for that jar in the store if that’s what makes you happy! Either way, this makes for a nice, simple dinner with some healthy elements so you can treat yourself later.

Ingredients: 

  • 3-4 Italian chicken sausages, casings removed
  • 8 oz of small, cooked pasta
  • 1 cup of the starchy pasta water
  • 2 cups of tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup milk (non-dairy works)
  • 2 tsp nutritional yeast (optional, could also use a sharp cheese or omit altogether)
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • Pinch of salt to taste depending on your tomato sauce
  • 2 cups baby spinach

Instructions:

  1. Remove the casings from the chicken sausages if they have them. Slice into 1/2″ thick pieces and sear in a pan until fully cooked/heated.
  2. Meanwhile, cook your pasta in salted water and drain while al dente. Be sure to save 1 cup of the starchy water for the sauce.
  3. In a medium saucepan, heat the tomato sauce over low-medium heat and add the starchy water, milk, nutritional yeast, garlic powder, onion powder, red pepper flakes and a small pinch of salt if needed.
  4. Once fully incorporated and heated through, remove from heat. Stir in the spinach and allow to wilt in the sauce for 1-2 minutes.
  5. Stir in your pasta and sausages and serve. Goes well with some nice, crusty bread as well.

Wine Pairing: Since this can be on the spicy side with the sausages and the pepper flakes, you want a wine that can stand up to those flavors. While this is hardly authentic, you could keep with the Italian theme and go with a Chianti to pair. Usually a Chianti is bold enough to go with a lot of seasoning, and should bring out the flavors nicely. 

Homemade Stock

Seafood Stock

Ingredients

Discarded seafood, including shrimp shells, crab shells, or fish heads or bones

2 small onions, 2 medium carrots, and a stalk of celery (or, conversely, saved scraps of these vegetables, which can be kept in the freezer until needed)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Arrange fish or shellfish scraps on cookie sheet with vegetables. Roast in oven for 5-10 minutes or until the seafood is browned on edges.
  3. Place the roasted ingredients in large pot. Add 8 cups water, or enough to cover ingredients and fill pot about halfway full.
  4. Bring the stock to a simmer (not boil). Skim fat off the surface of the stock regularly, simmering for three hours with the pot uncovered.
  5. After simmering for three hours, strain the stock through a colander or, preferably, a sieve.
  6. Allow the stock to cool to room temperature, removing any remaining fat before storage. Use within 3-4 days.

 

Chicken Stock

Ingredients

Chicken carcass

2 small onions, 2 medium carrots, and a stalk of celery (or, conversely, saved scraps of these vegetables, which can be kept in the freezer until needed)

Instructions

  1.  Rinse chicken carcass with cold water and trim any visible fat.
  2. Place the carcass and chopped vegetables or vegetable scraps in a large pot. Add water until carcass is nearly (but not entirely) covered.
  3. Bring the stock to a simmer (not boil). Skim fat off the surface of the stock regularly, simmering for three hours with the pot uncovered.
  4. After simmering for three hours, strain the stock through a colander or, preferably, a sieve.
  5. Allow the stock to cool to room temperature, removing any remaining fat before storage. Use within 3-4 days.

Salad Rolls with a Trio of Dipping Sauces

I remember one of the first times I thought I might be becoming an adult (I mean, still not 100%), it was after a particularly indulgent weekend full of gastronomic delights. It was at that point when I had the spontaneous thought: “Man, I really just want a vegetable.” That was a completely new feeling to me as anyone who knew my former eating habits could probably verify. Nowadays, it doesn’t take much to get that feeling again and I take pride in it. However, after weeks of the holiday season, hosting, attending parties (some people, not necessarily me), and partaking in all the scrumptious treats of the holiday season, it’s nice to get back to the routine of healthy meals for a little while.

This week, Amanda and I wanted to share our go-to veggie filled recipes when we need a little nutritional pick-me-up. While I try to make pretty healthy meals on the regular, when I’m really feeling disgusting and bloated and a little too deep-fried, a nice salad roll is my favorite. They are light, basically a salad burrito and if you fill them full of veggies and lean protein, a little dipping sauce might not hurt if you don’t go overboard.

The beauty of these rolls are in their customizability. You can add anything you like and dip into anything you like. I have seen spring and summer rolls filled with everything from cooked shrimp and vermicelli noodles to mangoes and strawberries. If you keep these rice wrappers on hand, you can easily scoop up some leftovers you have in your fridge and let your imagination go wild. Below, I wanted to share the version I gravitate towards as well as a few dipping sauce options:

Spicy Pineapple Dipping Sauce

  • 3/4 cup pineapple puree
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 tbsp sriracha
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • Juice of 1/2 lime
  • 1 tsp of sliced greens of green onions for garnish

To Make:

  • If you don’t have pineapple puree, blend together about 1 cup pineapple chunks (canned is fine) until smooth.
  • Whisk together all ingredients minus the green onions until combined.
  • Top with green onion slices.

Sesame Ginger Dipping Sauce:

  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 2 tbsp sesame oil
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp grated, fresh ginger
  • 1 tbsp sesame seeds
  • 1-2 green onions, chopped

To Make:

  • Combine all ingredients in a small bowl until well mixed and enjoy.

Peanut Dipping Sauce:

  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tbsp grated, fresh ginger
  • 1 clove garlic
  • Juice of 1/2 lime
  • 1 tbsp red pepper flakes

To Make:

  • Whisk all ingredients together in a small bowl until well combined (the peanut butter might fight you for a second but it will come around) and it is ready to enjoy.

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My Salad Roll Ingredients:

  • Rice Paper Wrappers
  • ¬†Butter Lettuce
  • Cooked Chicken
  • Cucumber
  • Carrots
  • Avocado
  • Green Bell Pepper
  • (But the possibilities are endless so go wild)

To Assemble: 

  • Gather and slice all your ingredients mise-en-place style so you aren’t fumbling for anything. I like my vegetables and proteins (although shrimp can probably stay whole) to be cut into strip for easier eating.Make sure you have a large bowl of clean, cool, water big enough to submerge the entirety of your wrapper at one time, and a flat, clean surface to build your roll.
  • Dip one rice paper wrapper into the water and allow to sit for 10-15 seconds.
  • Remove from the water, and try to shake off and excess. Transfer to your surface for assembly.
  • Place a small amount of your ingredients about 1/3 ¬†of the way up from the bottom of the roll not surpassing the halfway mark of the wrapper. Try to fill in as much free space as possible but be careful not to overstuff.
  • Once you have added all of your ingredients, fold the bottom third over your ingredients and then fold in the sides. Then roll the rest up just like a burrito. As you can see in my picture above, the rolling might not always be perfect, but try to keep it as contained as you can.
  • Enjoy immediately as a whole meal or as an appetizer with your choice of dipping sauces.

Wine Pairing: I know we’re trying to be healthy here, but come on. Sometimes you can have both right? While it would depend on your dipping sauce selection, I can’t help but feel that a light Rose might be a nice selection to the summery feel of this dish–which may also match with the peanut sauce nicely. Happy cooking!

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Roast Whole Chicken and Homemade Chicken Stock

Happy Holidays!! I hope you, like Merideth and I, are having a relaxing last week of the year after filling up on good food with friends and family!

Though I made this chicken as part of our quest for easy, special recipes for holidays, it’s something I’ll make for a hands-off weekend meal. That is, nights that I have the time, but not necessarily the energy or self-motivation, to make an involved recipe. The chicken came out juicy and with a deliciously crispy skin, looking much more difficult than a few minutes of prep before the oven!

If you have additional cooking time, I really loved this recipe because the leftover chicken carcass makes a seriously good chicken broth…three hours later. The time spent in these two recipes is well worth it though, and not just if you’re like me and think baking is a great way to keep warm in the winter! I used the chicken stock the next day for my lunch soup and really tasted the difference from store-bought stock. It made me feel good to use the “waste” from the roasted chicken, too!

For the photos below, I used Bavarian seasoning from The Spice House, a German blend good for roasting including rosemary, thyme, and mustard seeds. However, since this is more of a technique than a specific recipe, feel free to adjust to your taste! I also threw in some diced squash to roast with the chicken (a favorite kitchen shortcut of mine), but zucchini, potatoes, carrots, and onions can also work too- cut into bite-sized pieces, toss in olive oil, salt, and pepper, and spread around the chicken.
Some seasoning suggestions:

Salt, pepper, garlic (either powder or minced and rubbed on skin)

Rosemary, salt, pepper, and/or oregano rubbed on skin, lemon slices inside cavity

Herbs De Provence

Italian seasoning mix

Make it your own, and enjoy!

Roasted Whole Chicken

Ingredients

Whole chicken  (2-4 lbs)

Olive oil

Salt and Pepper

Optional seasonings, including (but not limited to) garlic cloves, garlic powder, onion wedges, lemon wedges, rosemary, sage, or thyme

Instructions

 

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and prepare roasting pan for chicken.
  2. Remove giblets from the chicken’s internal cavity (they should be in a bag). Discard or save for the chicken stock.
  3. Pat chicken dry with paper towel, including inside the cavity, and rub the outer skin with olive oil. This will help crisp the skin while roasting.
  4. Season skin and/or fill cavity with desired seasonings.
  5. Place chicken, breast side down in the roasting pan or baking dish. If adding chopped potatoes or vegetables, add around the chicken now.
  6. Check the chicken after 50 minutes, using a meat thermometer in the thickest part of the chicken thigh. Chicken is ready when it reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees and juices run clear. Total roasting time should be between 50 minutes and and hour and a half, depending on chicken size.
  7. Carve the chicken, removing wings, legs, and breast meat. If making chicken stock, save carcass for use within up to 3 days.

Pasta with Pumpkin Sage Sauce

While cooking is one of our passions, Amanda and I do need some kind of outlet to work off all these calories from our culinary experiments (or more so the wine pairing experiments), so we have also been excitedly training for the Nashville Half-Marathon which we successfully completed this past weekend! Currently, Amanda is excelling in the exercise department, and completed her first half marathon with ease. She was kind enough to wait to run her first half crazy distance with me as her running companion, despite our attempts to complete this distance a year prior.

We were all set to run the Disney Wine and Dine Half Marathon during the EPCOT Food and Wine Festival, when nature intervened and the Florida heavens opened on thousands of hopeful, costume-clad runners. Dressed as the Cheshire Cat and the White Rabbit, we were posing for our pre-race picture in front of a giant cardboard bottle of champagne when the loud speakers sounded the alarm. We were forced to evacuate the start line and get to shelter as quickly as the crowd’s pace would allow. Since this was a night race, we racers huddled inside the Wide World of Sports complex on Disney property for the storm to pass all wondering what the rest of the night had in store. When we were finally able to start the race, it had been downgraded from 13.1 miles to 7.1 miles. Since it was then close to midnight and our pre-race fuel had long worn off, we were thankful at the time but still disappointed Amanda couldn’t get that 13.1 distance under her belt. Well, one year later in a new city, we tried it again and we were not going to make any fueling mistakes.

I have a few races under my belt and have been perfecting my ideal pre-race dinner for three years. While there are loads of runners fuel recipes across the internet, it seems that a reasonable sized (not too filling) meal with simple carbs and protein, not too much fat and not too much fiber (just this once–runner’s gut is real) is the general theme for these meals. While every runner has their own food and preparation rituals, I wanted to share my go-to meal that I eat in some variation before each long training run. This recipe has been my favorite to eat before long marathon training runs for the past two years. It is by no means magical, and may not be anyone else’s race fuel but it still is great comfort food and extremely delicious. Even if you don’t have anywhere to run tomorrow, this can still be a great dinner for two tonight:

Pasta Sauce:

  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1 cup pumpkin
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 3-4 fresh sage leaves, chopped into ribbons
  • 1/2 tsp dried marjoram
  • 1/2 dried italian herb mix or oregano
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese (optional. I leave this out when running and it still tastes great)
  • 4-5 oz spaghetti dry, enough for two portions
  • Water for boiling
  • salt for the water

Chicken Rub (optional, but since it’s pictured I thought I’d share)

  • Two chicken breast cutlets
  • 1 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tbsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • Pepper to Taste

For the Pasta:

  • Begin by boiling heavily salted water for the pasta in a large pot (the typical ratio is one tablespoon of salt to one quart of water which sounds like a lot but your taste buds will thank you).
  • As ¬†the pasta is cooking, drizzle the olive oil in a saucepan and saute the shallot with a pinch of salt until translucent.
  • Add the sage, and stir until fragrant and no longer raw.
  • Pour in the broth and allow to come to a simmer for about 8 minutes. At this time, your pasta water should be coming to a rolling boil so it may be a good time to cook that spaghetti.
  • Stir in the pumpkin, herbs, cayenne pepper, optional cheese and salt & pepper.
  • Cover and allow to cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally as you wait for the pasta to finish cooking.
  • At this time, your pasta should be coming to al dente perfection. Before draining, be sure to save about 3/4 of a cup of the starchy pasta water and add this to your pumpkin sauce.
  • Stir your sauce with the pasta water incorporated and if it is still too watery, allow to cook for a few more minutes.
  • Optional step: If you prefer a smoother texture, you can use your immersion blender at this time to break up those shallots, or run the sauce through a blender and return to the pan to re-heat.
  • Once the sauce is a texture to your liking, add the spaghetti directly to the sauce and stir until coated.
  • Serve with parmesan cheese grated on top and I like to have mine with chicken breast.

Chicken Breast:

  • Mix all spices together and pat onto the chicken breasts until well coated.
  • Pan fry with a drizzle of your favorite higher smoke point oil (aka not extra virgin olive oil) over medium heat until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees and there is no longer pink in the center.
  • Slice, serve and enjoy!

Wine Pairing: I first tried this with a Riesling as I had intended to incorporate parmesan cheese with the dish. However, if you are omitting this portion, I would recommend something a little less aromatic and fruity in lieu of something with a bit lighter body and less acidity such as a Pinot Grigio. 

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Chicken Tikka Masala

 

Indian food is my¬†favorite¬†cuisine – the flavors are so complex and warm. Chicken tikka masala is a great introductory dish for someone unfamiliar with Indian cuisine. The familiar tomato based sauce and glorious spicy smell will win over even the most suspicious and picky eater! This recipe is an adaptation from Christine Ha’s¬†Recipes from my Home Kitchen, which Merideth got me for Christmas this past year! An “adaptation” because it has my new favorite secret ingredient: fenugreek! When I was in Boston earlier this spring, I happened to grab a barstool next to a Nepalese chef¬†visit for “research” (excellent excuse to tour Boston’s culinary scene!). I told him about my favorite tikka masala dish and he gave me three suggestions: 1) marinate the chicken overnight instead of the hour that this recipe instructs; 2) don’t discard the marinade when adding in the chicken; and 3), use fenugreek! I added 1 tablespoon to have a similar balance with the other spices.

Ingredients

1 cup plain yogurt

1 tablespoon lemon juice

4 teaspoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground red pepper (I substituted red pepper flakes once, but I don’t recommend it since the flavors do not blend as well).

1 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 tablespoon peeled, minced ginger (I typically grate it)

1 teaspoon cinnamon

salt

 

3 boneless skinless chicken breasts or thighs, cut into cubes

2 tablespoons butter

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 tablespoon paprika

1 1/2 cups tomato sauce

1 1/2 cups heavy cream

Top with cilantro (optional)

 

Instructions

1) In large bowl, combine yogurt, lemon juice, 2 teaspoons of the cumin (half), red pepper, pepper, ginger, cinnamon, and salt. Add the chicken and marinate overnight (or at least one hour).

2) In a large saucepan, melt the butter, stir in garlic, and cook. Add paprika , remaining cumin, and salt to taste. Stir in the tomato sauce and cream and simmer for 20 minutes, or until the sauce thickens.

3) Add the chicken to the simmering sauce for an additional 10 minutes. Serve over basmati rice. I also serve it with fresh baked naan (more info on naan to come)!

Wine Pairing

For this dish, we paired with a nice merlot. Not toobold, but complimented the flavors nicely with it’s slightly spicy flavor and hints of berries–it matched the spiciness of the dish while ¬†also adding calming notes between bites.¬†IMG_0246.JPG

Moroccan Chicken

Here we go with our first distance dinner! For a new adventure, Merideth and I wanted to try a new cuisine: African dishes. Picking this large and varied continent for our first dish also gave us the chance to be creative with our choices. I chose Moroccan Chicken, with warm spices typical to the region. Something I learned from this dish was to read the recipe¬†fully before starting- I showed up late for our Skype date because I didn’t plan for the hour baking time!

Moroccan Chicken

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Ingredients

  • 6-8 chicken thighs
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 2 tablespoons chopped garlic
  • 1 medium sized diced red onion
  • 4 tablespoons Moroccan seasoning¬†blend
  • Dried apricots
  • Raisins
  • salt and pepper to taste

Moroccan Seasoning Mix:

  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 1 tsp cayenne
  • 1 tsp ground allspice
  • 1 tsp ground cloves

Directions

  1. Heat a large saute pan on high heat with 1 tsp olive oil.
  2. Season chicken with salt and pepper, add to hot pan, skin side down, and saute for 3-4 minutes or to a deep golden brown color.
  3. Remove and set aside, place in a crock pot or Dutch oven.
  4. Add onions and garlic to saute pan and saute for 2-3 minutes; add chicken stock and coconut milk and stir.
  5. Whisk in Maverick Moroccan spice and flour, bring sauce to a boil. Add sliced apricots and raisins and pour over chicken.
  6. Place in pre-heated oven at 350 degrees and cook for 1 hour.
  7. When serving, make sure you give everyone some apricots and raisins on top!

(adapted from Blue Canyon Moroccan Chicken)

Wine Pairing: In order to complement the chicken and the exotic spices, I had a delicious Marsanne from my local sustainable winery! A new wine for me for a new recipe.

Verdict:

Delicious! I have a confession: this picture is from when I made the dish a second time! The warm spices are perfect for a cool day.