Category Archives: Meat

Thai Curry Noodle Bowl with Sweet Potatoes & Chicken


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Thai Red Curry with Whole Grain Udon Noodles

Oh, Heidi. The 101 Cookbooks creator was instrumental in lighting my cooking fire a year and a half ago. Since stumbling across her blog I’ve come to see appreciate the beauty of seasonal cooking and off-the-beaten-path ingredients such as whole grain udon noodles, coconut oil, and shoyu sauce. All of which play a staring role in this delicious, slurp-tastic bowl of hearty, wholesome food. Part of the fun for me of cooking familiar dishes composed of unfamiliar ingredients is the the thrill of the hunt. Trolling the aisles of the MASSIVE Whole Foods here in Chicago and making a pilgrimage to the beloved Green Grocer for ingredients is all part of fun (NOTE: impatient boyfriends may not feel the same way.)

Thai Red Curry with Whole Grain Udon Noodles

3 tablespoons coconut oil
12 oz chicken breasts
fine grain sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
8 oz dried whole grain or whole wheat udon noodles
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 large yellow onion, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons red curry paste
2 teaspoons turmeric
2 tablespoons shoyu sauce, plus more to taste
1 tablespoon cane sugar
14 oz can coconut milk
2 cups vegetable stock or water
Juice of 1 lime, plus more wedges for serving
1/3 cup slivered shallots
Large handful of peanuts
Large handful of cilantro, chopped

1.) Season chicken with salt and pepper. Grab your dutch oven and heat 1 tablespoon coconut oil over medium-high heat until swirling and hot. Add chicken and cook for 2-3 minutes on one side without moving it until it is nicely browned and detaches from the bottom of the pan with minimal prodding. Flip and cook 1-2 minutes more. Set aside. When cooled, break apart chicken into chunks with a fork. Wipe out the dutch oven with a paper towel but do not wash.

2.) Heat a pot of water until boiling. Salt generously and cook noodles until cooked but still quite firm; according to package directions. Drain and set aside.

3.) Heat 2 tablespoons coconut oil over medium-high heat in your dutch oven. Add garlic, onion, and curry paste, using your wooden spoon to distribute the paste across the mixture. Cook for 2 minutes; until fragrant. Add chicken, turmeric, sugar, and shoyu sauce and and stir to coat. Add coconut milk and vegetable stock, bring to a boil, and then simmer gently for 5 minutes.

4.) Remove from heat and stir in noodles and limes juice. Ladle into bowls and serve garnished with a sprinkling of shallots, peanuts, cilantro, and wedges of lime.

This recipe was adapted from Super Natural Cooking by Heidi Swanson. Published by Celestial Arts, New York; 2007.

Asian Chicken Noodle Soup

The perfect soup for the sick. The chicken broth (go homemade for maximum restorative powers) literally makes this taste an Asian spin on the traditional chicken noodle soup. For something a bit more “authentic,” go with vegetable broth instead.

Asian Chicken Noodle Soup
Serves 4

2 1/1 tablespoons canola oil, vegetable oil, or mild-flavored olive oil
2 small boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 3/4 lb.), butterflied (slice almost all the way through lengthwise and spread open)
fine grain sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 shallots, thinly sliced crosswise
2 stalks lemongrass, trimmed, outer layers peeled off, halved lengthwise, and smashed
1 tablespoon ginger, grated/minced
2 tsp light brown sugar
5 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth (or vegetable broth)
3-4 oz shiitake mushrooms, wiped clean, stemmed, and quartered
6 oz whole grain dried udon noodles
1 small serrano pepper or Thai bird chile, thinly sliced crosswise
a large handful of fresh basil, torn into pieces, plus more for garnish
juice of one lime, plus wedges for serving
2 tablespoons soy sauce, plus more for serving
2 scallions, trimmed and sliced for garnish
1 medium carrot, cut into small sticks or grated on a box grater, for garnish
a large handful of fresh cilantro, for garnish

1.) Season chicken with salt and pepper. Grab your big ol’ dutch oven and heat 1 1/2 tablespoons oil over medium-high heat until swirling and hot. Add chicken and cook for 2-3 minutes on one side without moving it until it is nicely browned and detaches from the bottom of the pan with minimal prodding. Flip and cook 1-2 minutes more. Set aside. When cooled, break apart chicken into chunks with a fork.

2.) Heat remaining oil in dutch oven over medium heat. All shallots, sprinkle with salt, and cook 3 minutes; until soft. Add lemongrass, ginger, and brown sugar and cook, stirring constantly, for 1-2 minutes; until very fragrant. Add broth and use your wooden spoon to scrape up any delicious little browned bits from the bottom of the pan.

3.) Bring to a boil. Add mushrooms, reduce heat to medium-high, and cook until soft; 5-8 minutes. Add chicken an cook for 2 minutes more; making sure that both mushrooms and chicken are cooked through.

4.) While mushrooms are cooking, bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add udon noodles and cook until al dented according to package directions; 8-11 minutes. Drain.

5.) Discard the lemongrass. Stir in chile, basil, lime juice, and soy sauce.

6.) To serve, divide noodles amongst four serving bowls. Ladle soup over the noodles and garnish with generous amounts of basil, scallions, carrots, and cilantro. Pass a plate of lime wedges and soy sauce around the table.

Spring Soba Noodles with Shrimp & Asparagus

This recipe was adapted from Heidi Swanson’s wondrous Super Natural Cooking. I switched out the tofu for shrimp, added asparagus, and altered the amounts a tad to suit my own tastes, and you should feel fee to do the same.

Spring Soba Noodles with Shrimp & Asparagus

Dressing
grated zest of 1 lemon
1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated fresh ginger
1 1/2 tablespoons honey
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
1 1/2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 cup unseasoned brown rice vinegar
1/3 cup shoyu sauce
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil

Noodles
12.8 ounce pack soba noodles
1 bunch asparagus, trimmed and sliced diagonally into 1 inch pieces
1 lb. fresh shrimp, peeled, deveined, and patted dry
1 1/2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
3/4-1 cup cucumber, peeled and julienned
1/2 cup cilantro, roughly chopped
3 green onions plus a few inches of greens, thinly sliced
handful of toasted sesame seeds

1.) Combine all dressing ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Set aside.

2.) Now, cook the shrimp by heating the 1 1/2 teaspoons sesame oil in a heavy bottomed saute pan over medium high heat. When oil becomes swirly and hot, add shrimp in an even layer and cook for about 3 minutes on the one side, and then turn and finish cooking for about a minute on the other side. The shrimp should be vibrantly pink. Set aside on paper towels.

3.) Bring a large part of water to a boil, salt generously, and add soba noodles and asparagus and cook for about 3 minutes; until noodles are cooked and asparagus vibrant green. Drain.

4.) In a large bowl, toss noodles and asparagus with about 1 cup of the dressing. Then add shrimp, green onions, 1/4 cup of the cilantro, and cucumber. Garnish with sesame seeds and the remaining 1/4 cup of cilantro. Serve warm.

Spicy Whitefish Soup

Oh, what a soup! A sunny bowl of vibrant color and deep flavors. This recipe was adapted from an episode of my favorite Food Network chef, the lovely Giada De Laurentiis.

Spicy Whitefish Soup
Serves 4

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
5 garlic cloves, chopped
5 carrots, chopped
3/4 cup dry white wine
28 oz can crushed tomatoes (San Marzano is the best)
1 cup water
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 pound skinned whitefish (cod, arctic char, or halibut), thoroughly rinsed, cut into 3/4-1 inch chunks, and salted
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1.) Grab your trusty dutch oven and heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion, sprinkle with some sea salt, and saute for 8 minutes. Then add the carrot and garlic, and saute for 8-10 minutes more; until the onions are browning and a yummy brown film forms on the bottom of the pan.

2.) Turn the heat to high, add the wine, and scoop up all the delicious browned bits from the bottom of the pan with your wooden spoon. Simmer until most of the wine has evaporated; about 5 minutes.

3.) Reduce heat and add the red pepper flakes, water, and tomatoes. Bring to a simmer, cover, and cook for 20 minutes.

4.) Add fish to the pot, cover, and continue to simmer for 5-10 minutes; until cooked through. Season with a few grinds of black pepper and more salt, if you think it needs it. Sprinkle with a bit of parsley, and enjoy with a chunk of good, crusty bread.

Smoky Ancho Chile Pork & Hominy Stew

A smoky, intoxicating stew of pork, hominy, bell pepper, chile, and loads of garlic and onions. Restorative in its hearty goodness.

Cowboy’s contribution to this dinner was throwing one of his records into the background of the photo. Pretty cool, huh? He was proud.

Smoky Ancho Chile Pork and Hominy Stew

2 tablespoons mild-flavored olive oil
2 tablespoons ancho chile powder
2 teaspoons dried New Mexican Oregano
1 1/2 teaspoons cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons fine grain sea salt
1 teaspoon hot smoked paprika
1 1/2 pounds pork tenderloin, cut into a 1/2 inch dice
3 cups yellow onion, diced
1 large red bell pepper, diced
2 tablespoons garlic, minced
14 oz can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
28 oz can hominy
2 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth

1.) Mix all spices in a ziploc bag. Add pork, twist top, and shake to coat.

2.) Heat oil over medium-high heat in a Dutch oven. Add pork and saute 4-7 minutes; until lightly browned. Remove from pan with tongs and set aside.

3.) Add a splash more of oil to the pot, add onion, and saute for 15 minutes; until soft and beginning to turn golden.

4.) Add garlic and pepper and saute for 7 more minutes.

5.) Add hominy to pan and stir to coat. Then add tomatoes and broth, bring to a boil, and reduce to a simmer. Simmer, partially covered, for 30 minutes.

Family Heirloom: Chicken Vesuvio

Before trying this recipe, I had yet to experience the pleasure of the pure, strong flavors that Chicken Vesuvio is meant to be.  This is a classic Italian dish – one that is often butchered by American Italian restaurants.  When I recently ordered it at Chicago’s Carmine’s, the dish that arrived was one of soggy, salty chicken, sitting in a pool of watery broth.  Yuck.

THIS one however, a recipe that is a staple in Cowboy’s Italian family, is heavenly.  The short list of ingredients is what makes this dish so good.  One appreciates the mellow sweetness of the garlic, the assertive peppery & saltiness of the chicken, and the crispy goodness of the potatoes – all punctuated by the pleasant addition of vibrant green peas.

This is what Italian cooking is meant to be – pure, delicious, and uncomplicated.  Italians truly know how to get the most out of their ingredients.  They use the most favorable flavor combinations in their cooking – ones that have been tested time and time again – and often do so at the risk of being pigeonholed as “boring.”  There’s a reason these ingredients have been paired together for so long.  Why mess with something so beautiful in its simplicity by adding unnecessary ingredients?  Basta!

Chicken Vesuvio

4 chicken breasts
2 medium russet potatoes, peeled and quartered
12 cloves of garlic, peeled
½ lb. frozen petite peas, cooked, and tossed with 1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup unbleached, all-purpose white flour OR white whole wheat flour
2 tsp paprika
2 tsp black pepper
2 tsp fine grain sea salt
½ cup olive oil

1.) Preheat oven to 350. Place potatoes in a pot of cold, salted water while you prepare.  (Soaking the potatoes in water prior to cooking helps to create that divine crispy, brown crust).  Place flour, salt, pepper, and paprika in a plastic bag.   Place chicken in bag, twist the top to close, and shake to coat chicken with flour and seasonings.

2.) Start cooking the potatoes and chicken at the same time.   Simmer potatoes over medium-high heat while you sauté chicken pieces in olive oil in a sauté pan. Your goal here is simply to brown the chicken a bit before it goes in the oven, so a few minutes on each side should do the trick.

3.) Once browned, remove chicken from pan and place in a 9 x 15 glass baking dish with the garlic cloves. Add potatoes to the sauté pan, working in batches if pan is too crowded, and sauté until lightly browned as well.

4.) Add potatoes to baking dish, and drizzle the remaining olive oil over the contents of the dish.

5.) Bake for 1 hr and 15 minutes to 1 1/2 hours, depending on how thick your chicken breasts are, until chicken and potatoes are browned, adding the peas 10 minutes before you take the chicken out of the oven.