Tag Archives: jalapenos

Chicken Skin

21 Jan

Chicken skin is a beautiful, beautiful thing. It starts off slimy and with goosebumps, can turn chewy if sauteed a bit and then golden brown crunchy. To utilize about half a dozen chicken breasts (obviously not skinless), I decided to make a curry the other night. I removed the skin and left it to use later on in the curry. Grab a wok, toss in chopped up chicken breast to brown up with garlic, shallots and onion. Over top pour coconut milk and peas (even if they start off frozen they’ll thaw and cook perfectly within the heat of the curry), then as much mace, turmeric, yellow curry, cayenne pepper as you want. I would have loved to throw in some cherry peppers too but my mother’s palate is a little more sensitive to heat than mine. Cherry peppers are possibly the cutest hot pepper I’ve run into and they have a much sweeter and slightly less spicy quality than jalapenos. They would also give the curry another vibrant color to play off the yellow of the curry powder and the bright green orbs of peas.

While the curry is simmering and melding the spices, start some white rice in another pan. Then while both of those are going, get a small sauté pan, some butter, white wine vinegar and the chicken skins from before. Melt a good amount of butter in the pan, then toss in the skins and pour maybe 3 tablespoons of vinegar over them. The vinegar gives the skin a nice tanginess that plays nicely with the spice and sweetness of the curry. Once the skins shrivel up a bit and brown, drain the liquid from the pan and dump the skins on a cutting board and slice length wise. Then serve the rice in each diner’s dish (preferably a pasta bowl), spoon curry over top and then sprinkle the skin over top. You get a combination of textures: chewy, crunchy, tender and the snap of the peas make this a more interesting variation on the traditional curry.

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Friday is a Grill Day

20 Sep

I grilled again the other Friday with great food, beer, company and weather.  This time I took it easy on the pre-lighter soaked charcoal and in so doing, managed to avoid the third degree burns of my first attempt.  On the menu:  grilled corn in their husks, portobello mushrooms, red peppers, chicken liver marinated in olive oil/soy sauce/cumin, hot doggies,  strip steaks, pita and  a sauce made of Fage 0% yogurt+chopped cilantro+diced garlic.  We were all so stuffed that hardly any of us made it out to the parties that night.  The assorted dishes and food stuffs also didn’t make it out of the trunk of my car until today, 2 weeks later…SO gross, really have to stop being lazy.

grill time with lovely lady helpers hard at work

photo courtesy of MK

Anyway, the surprise of the experience was the liver.  I guess it really shouldn’t have been a surprise but I was shocked at how velvety the liver was after its long sojourn on the grill.  I kept forgetting it wasn’t heart and therefore not a muscle that would toughen up if I wasn’t careful.  I really shouldn’t have been so taken aback since I’m a big fan of foie gras.  In any case, it was delicious nestled in a hot pita with the yogurt sauce some jalapenos and peppers.  I liked the liver and I’m still trying to break into offal but the local market doesn’t stock it!  That said, long live grillin’ days, cuz they’re the best.

grill mistress

photo courtesy of MK

Peter Piper Picked a Peck of Pickled Peppers

13 Sep

This was the awful nursery rhyme that has followed me from birth.  It didn’t help that I’ve always had at least one friend named Peter in my classes/life, thus the song that never ends.  This summer, embracing the rhyme,  I started growing my own jalapenos, habaneros and hot banana peppers.  I even tried my hand at pickling, but have yet to taste the results since they might have stayed unrefridgerated in my car for about a week.

photo courtesy of my mother

photo courtesy of my mother

The fun of growing the peppers was what any gardener or green-thumb wannabe experiences: watching the blossoms sprout, the beginnings of the peppers crowning until they become full fruit on the branch and then color up.  The not-so-fun part was waging an incessant war with the fat deer that roam our neighborhood and feast on the new blossoms, cutting down the plants to half their original size.  Every night I would bring the pots onto the back porch to save them the fate of the foul mouthed deer.  They survived pretty well through August when they came into mature fruition, as evidenced by this plateful of glory of which my mother sent me a picture:

photo courtesy of my mother

photo courtesy of my mother

I’m a terrible liar, even to myself, and so it is with full honesty that I divulge that the pickling process I used for these babies was sad at best.  I didn’t have a canning rack (I didn’t even know what they were), I had to run out to the store mid-way through the process to get new lids for my mason jars and luckily grabbed some pickling salt just in casies.  It was a MacGyver job to say the least — I threw in a splash of pickling salt into my 3 mason jars hoping it would do the trick.  Update soon when I get the courage to open the jars.

[On a side note, the little umbrella girl on Morton’s salt, is an awesome nostalgic label — but that’s a whole other paper’s-worth on brand loyalty.]

Happy Dogs and Burgs

7 Aug

Growing up as the baby of the family, 5 years younger than my sibling, I looked to my brother for almost everything.  When I was 6, I went through a phase of wearing umbros and giant t-shirts.  So somehow his pattern of food research became engrained in me at an early age.  He went on a caesar salad kick for a few years trying to hunt down the perfect combination of salad, cheese, dressing and croutons.

This summer has been my excursion into burgers and dogs — a staple of summer food and a personal favorite.  From my childhood, burgers were a home-cooked thing and McDonald’s/Swensons was a rare treat reserved for “Junkfood Fridays”.  The standard: thick, medium rare, small burger, bun with ketchup, grey poupon and pickles.  As I got older, I drifted to the cheeseburger, eventually the bacon cheeseburger, the triple cheeseburger.  But I didn’t realize the vast array of condiments I was missing until this summer when I had a burger at the Beer Engine and ordered the Southwestern Burger.

happy burgs

Oh my god. Ohmygodohmygodohmygodohmygod.  Pepper jack cheese, jalapenos, roasted red peppers and chili sauce?!  I am completely hooked on this burger but more to the point, I’m in love with the idea of jalapenos on a burger.  My favorite little trick is tucking them in under the cheese when I make them at home so they don’t slip out.  Number one rule:  ALWAYS TOAST THE BUNS.

New Burger Adventures:

Srichacha in place of ketchup

Beets instead of tomatoes (if you love beets this will be your new favorite –  sweet, slightly firmer consistency than a tomato)

Worcestershire sauce and chopped onions worked into the burger meat (so much juicier and flavorful)

happy dogs

And as for hot dogs, my taste is undeveloped and seeking new ideas.  For some reason, in my household, hot dogs are always cooked in a skillet with water…this I detest — mostly because the water turns an icky color and the dogs look pallid and unhappy.  The happiest dog I have found is on a grill or in a skillet without water.  The skin crackles a bit, gets some nice color and then when it’s all done I take a knife to the top and score the meat on top, releasing the flavor and the color contrast is actually sort of beautiful in its own way.

Another trick I learned early on was putting the sparse condiments I use (ketchup and grey poupon) inside the bun first and the dog on top making it easier to eat.  As for most foods cooking away on a grill I really love a good old-fashioned IPA.  Recently I tried Green Flash West Coast IPA and found it to be a nice little hop bomb with a good amount of bitterness in the finish.  IPA’s that are not too floral I find are a good combination when eating grilled meats.

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