Posts Tagged ‘chicken’

What to Eat at the Airport: DFW

When we started this blog about two years ago, we never dreamed that we would be singing the praises of airport food. But that was before Pappasito’s Cantina became the only bright spot in a very trying day at the Dallas Fort Worth Airport.

We were en route from Boston to Albuquerque when our early morning connecting flight in Dallas was canceled without explanation. The next flight wasn’t until late in the day and we were resigned to a long, boring wait and generic fast food. We were debating the merits of pre-made sandwiches, bagels, yogurt smoothies, and McBurger when we stumbled on Pappasito’s in Terminal A. The long bar looked so inviting that we grabbed a couple of stools, perused the Tex-Mex menu and settled on tamales filled with chicken breast meat and topped with green chile. Bulging out of their corn husk wrappers, they were the real deal. The tamal was redolent of corn and lime, the chicken was intense, and the green chile was just the right balance of hot and sweet.

Even though we had ordered one of the more modest options on the menu, the servers kept the tortilla chips and spicy red salsa coming, along with refills on ice tea. (No free refills on the Dos Equis drafts, alas.) But a good meal in convivial surroundings certainly lifted our spirits.

It turns out that Pappasito’s is a popular local chain, first started in 1983, so we’d had a taste of border town cooking after all. And it made us think that there may be local foods with character lurking in other airports as well. We resolve to keep an eye out–and we will let you know when we find them.

01

11 2011

Flying high with one of Spain’s top chefs

We give Iberia Airlines credit for hiring superchef Sergi Arola to create the menus for its business class customers. Arola has been one of our favorite Spanish chefs since we met him shortly after he opened his first restaurant in the Hotel Michelangelo in Madrid. His great flair with food was matched only by his deep sense of hospitality.

For those of us in coach seats, the airline tortures us every month with an Arola recipe in the inflight magazine, Ronda Iberia. This chicken stew is a great example of a dish that can be reheated and served at 35,000 feet and will still taste good. Arola’s unexpected touch is the addition of a vanilla bean. We’ve adapted it for home use and added an optional roux for diners who like the liquid of a stew to enrobe the solids. And when we eat it, we stretch our legs out at the dining table and allow unlimited refills on the wine—just like business class.

CHICKEN STEWED WITH PRUNES, DRIED APRICOTS AND VANILLA

Sergi Arola’s note on this recipe reminds cooks that stews—and especially this one, because it has dried fruits—improve by being left a few hours before reheating and serving. We like to serve it with a mixture of rice and Puy lentils.

Serves 4

Ingredients

1 1/4 lb. boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cup olive oil
1/2 lb. pearl onions
1 scallion
1 medium carrot
1 clove garlic
2/3 cup red wine
2 teaspoons soy sauce
Vanilla bean
12 dried apricots
8 large prunes
4 cups chicken stock

Optional roux
4 teaspoons all-purpose flour blended with 2 teaspoons olive oil

Directions

Cut thighs into 3/4-inch squares and season with salt and pepper and dredge in flour. Heat olive oil in 10-inch diameter deep skillet and quickly fry chicken. Drain in paper towels and reserve.

If using fresh pearl onions, boil in salted water for 4 minutes, peel and put to one side. If using frozen onions, measure and have on reserve.

Peel the scallion, carrot, and garlic, and cut into a fine julienne. Pour out all but 2 tablespoons of olive oil from skillet. (Reserve excess oil for future cooking.) Add vegetables to skillet and cook over a low flame until the vegetables are soft but not browned.

Heat wine in a saucepan until it reduces to one-quarter of its volume. Set aside.

Once the vegetables are soft, add the heated red wine and soy sauce. Bring to boil, add the chicken stock and simmer for 10 minutes. Pass the sauce through a fine strainer and return to skillet.

Add the vanilla (opened lengthwise), the dried apricots, the prunes, the pearl onions, and finally the squares of chicken thigh. Leave to simmer for 20 minutes.

Add salt to taste, remove the vanilla bean and scrape out the seeds with a sharp pointed knife. Return seeds to stew and discard pod.

If you prefer a thick rather than a thin sauce, thicken by whisking in optional roux and heating until sauce coats the chicken and fruit.

20

03 2011

A Cayman Islands version of a pepper pot

Chef Dean Max

As we were pondering how else to use our beautiful Cayman peppers, we were reminded that chef Dean Max is also a big fan. We met him last winter at an “Island Organic” presentation at the Cayman Cookout on Seven Mile Beach on Grand Cayman Island. When Max isn’t presiding over the kitchens of his Miami seafood empire, he’s often on Grand Cayman kicking back at the Brasserie, the restaurant he owns with King and Lisa Flowers.

For him, one of the pleasures of cooking in the Caribbean is drawing inspiration from local cooks. “I always take the traditional thinking,” he said. “We use their technique, but then we add things. Take chicken pepper pot soup. You’re making this beautiful chicken soup…and then you use the incredible peppers you get here.”

Like so many dishes, there are as many versions of chicken pepper pot soup as there are cooks. In most parts of the Caribbean, though, it can be a pretty spicy pot. We didn’t have chef Dean’s recipe, but we took his advice to adapt the dish to what we had. We played around with several chicken hot pots before we settled on this one. It has enough heat to earn its name, but not so much that it overwhelms the fruity taste of the Cayman peppers.

CHICKEN PEPPER POT SOUP

Ingredients

1/4 lb. bacon, diced
1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken thighs cut in 1/2 inch dice
1 medium onion, chopped
1 large sweet potato, quartered lengthwise, half thin sliced, half diced
15 Cayman peppers, stemmed, seeded and chopped
1 red bell pepper, peeled, seeded and chopped
2 small moderately hot peppers (Numex 6 or similar), seeded and chopped
4 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon Mexican oregano or marjoram
1 teaspoon ground allspice
2-4 drops Scotch bonnet hot sauce
7 cups chicken stock (preferably homemade)
5 oz. fresh spinach, roughly chopped
1 1/2 cups coconut milk

Directions

1. In large stock pot, fry bacon over medium heat. When browned, remove bacon to paper towels.

2. Add chicken pieces to fat and sauté until lightly browned. Add onions and continue cooking until onions begin to soften.

3. Return bacon to pot with sweet potato, Cayman peppers, red bell pepper, Numex chiles, garlic, spices and chicken stock. Bring to boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer 30 minutes.

4. Add spinach and coconut milk. Simmer another 15 minutes.

19

09 2010

Super Bowl arroz con pollo

We were surprised to read recently that Super Bowl Sunday is the second biggest eating holiday in the U.S., close on the heels of Thanksgiving. Since our own team, the New England Patriots, is not part of the action this year, it’s a diminished holiday for us. But we thought we could console ourselves with a good meal, and realized that the one dish we’ve probably eaten most often while watching football is arroz con pollo.

Of course, the football in question is what we Americans call soccer, but the Spaniards are every bit as obsessive about it. As in the U.S., tickets to the games are expensive, and the matches are typically broadcast on premium cable. If you want to see a match in Spain, you go to a bar.

According to Madrileños, Real Madrid is the best known team in the world, and we’ve watched them play in smoky flamenco bars, in Moroccan couscous joints, in burger palaces, and in “bars deportivos,” or sports bars. We drink beer and eat bar food, which as often as not includes arroz con pollo, a sort of poor man’s paella of saffron-paprika rice studded with pieces of chicken and sausage. This is our stand-by recipe the way we learned to make it on our first long trip to Spain in 1983.

We have tweaked it over the years, using all sweet red peppers instead of the standard mix of red and green, and going with boneless chicken. (Spaniards take a whole frying chicken and cut it into 16 or more pieces, often cutting right through the bones. Boneless chicken is splinter-free.) Spanish recipes also call for chorizo, which we usually use. This year we decided we would root for the New Orleans Saints, so we are substituting a smoked Louisiana andouille sausage. The Spanish version is more rice than meat. Feel free to add more protein.

Serves 4 hungry eaters or 8-10 if used as one of several game time snacks.


Ingredients

4 tablespoons fruity olive oil
2 boneless chicken breasts, cut into 16 pieces and sprinkled with sea salt
6 oz smoked andouille or chorizo sausage, cut in 1/4 inch slices
3 red sweet peppers, roasted, peeled and cut into 1-inch squares
1 large onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 pounds fresh tomatoes, peeled and chopped, or 1 28-oz can of diced tomatoes (drained-use the juices as part of the stock)
2 teaspoons sweet Spanish paprika (pimentón a la vera dulce)
2 teaspoons smoked Spanish paprika (pimentón a la vera ahumado)
big pinch of saffron
2 cups Valencian rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
3 1/2 cups strong homemade chicken stock

Directions

Heat olive oil in paella pan with 15-inch base or in 17-18-inch shallow, ovenproof skillet. Sauté chicken and sausage until lightly browned. Remove meat from pan and reserve.

Add red peppers, onion, and garlic to pan and cook until onion softens (about five minutes.) Stir in tomato and cook until juices reduce (5-7 minutes). Stir in both kinds of paprika and the saffron, then the rice, turning well to coat rice with oil. Pour in wine and stock. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer, and cook on stove-top until rice is no longer soupy (about 7 minutes). Do not stir.

Remove from heat and stir in sausage and chicken. Pat down until even, then place uncovered in 325F oven and bake for 15 minutes.

Remove from oven, cover with foil, and let sit 10 minutes before serving.

06

02 2010

Making paella Valenciana at home

Paella must be popular worldwide, judging by the recipe we received from the proprietor of Ceramicas Terriols (see below) when we purchased our paella pan. The directions were in a babble of languages, including Chinese and Russian. We can’t comment on the clarity of the Chinese and Russian, but the English was, shall we say, tortured. (Sample directions: “When the meat is gilding, the tomato and paprika are thrown well moved till the whole is lightly fried.”)

Still, we got the gist of it and we wanted to try it when we got home.

Since we have to traipse halfway across the city to buy rabbit, we decided to see if chicken thighs would make a good substitute. We can get good periwinkles in our neighborhood but rarely find live land snails, so we substituted button mushrooms to approximate the chewy texture and earthy flavor. Likewise, fresh favas would be nice, but lima beans are much easier to find.

We tinkered with the recipe over several months. The chicken is not as delicate as rabbit, but has similar size, texture and flavor. The lima beans are less meaty than favas, but as a close relative, they have a texture that is similar enough to pass muster. The mushrooms are definitely a compromise, but better than periwinkles. For an authentic version, you really need land snails. Still, we think this take on paella valenciana is better than any we’ve found outside Valencia. Our friends like it.

One additional cooking note: The broad base and shallow depth of a traditional Spanish paella pan ensures the classic texture with a slight crust on the bottom. You can also use a 15-17-inch shallow ovenproof skillet but you probably won’t get the crunch.

Paella Valenciana

Ingredients

2 tablespoons olive oil
24 button mushrooms
8 chicken thighs, skinned and cut in half (about 2 pounds)
1 cup chopped tomato, drained
2 teaspoons sweet or smoked Spanish paprika (pimentón a la Vera)
2 roasted and peeled red peppers, cut in 1 inch squares
1 1/2 cups green beans, fresh or frozen
1/2 cup lima beans, fresh or frozen
3 cups strong chicken stock
1 cup white wine
1 thick pinch saffron (about 1 gram)
1 3/4 cups Valencia rice (ideally, Bomba)

Directions

1. Heat olive oil in 15-inch paella pan over medium heat.
2. Brown mushrooms on all sides (about 5 minutes).
3. Add chicken pieces and brown on all sides (about 7 minutes).
4. Add tomato and paprika. Stir well to loosen browned bits in pan.
5. Add red pepper, green beans, lima beans, stock, wine, and saffron. Stir well and simmer 10 minutes.
6. Stir in rice to distribute evenly. Simmer 7 minutes while preheating oven to 350 degrees.
7. When rice is still moist but not soupy, move pan to preheated oven. Bake 7 minutes.
8. Remove pan from oven and cover loosely with foil for 7 minutes.

Serves 4.

11

01 2010

Warming up with green chile chicken stew

Green chile chicken stew

Green chile chicken stew

El Pinto Restaurant (10500 4th Street NW, Albuquerque, NM, 505-898-1771, www.elpinto.com) may seat up to 1,000 people at a time, yet the quality of the handmade New Mexican food belies the size. Maybe that’s because it is a family restaurant run by the grandsons of Josephina Chavez-Griggs. Her daughter Katy opened La Posta de la Mesilla in 1939, and Katy’s nephews Jim and John Thomas Meek (“the salsa twins”) operate El Pinto. Many of their recipes, though, go back to Josephina. When I was there recently on a cold November night, the green chile chicken stew lifted both the chill and my mood. It’s a perfect winter warmer and simple to make at home once you have the green chile sauce (see the recipes page or the post of November 19). Here’s the recipe adapted from El Pinto:

Green chile chicken stew

Ingredients

1 tablespoon corn or canola oil
1/4 cup all-purpose white flour
1 quart homemade chicken stock
1 lb. boneless chicken thighs cut in 1/2″ pieces
3 cups (about 4 medium) red potatoes, scrubbed and cut in 1/2″ cubes
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 recipe green chile sauce (2 cups)
1 1/2 cups whole kernel corn (fresh or frozen)
salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Heat oil in 1 gallon or larger Dutch oven. Blend in flour and make into a roux, heating and stirring until golden brown.

Whisk in chicken stock to make smooth sauce.

Add chicken. potatoes, garlic, and chile sauce. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer about 45 minutes until potatoes are tender and chicken is very tender.

Add corn and bring back to a boil. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with warm tortillas.

Serves 12.

21

11 2009