Saturday, August 24, 2013

Rainy Night Steak Chili

Someone mentioned chili about a week ago, and it sounded great so I bought most of the ingredients. The temperature dipped into the 40's today (inside and outside) and it's been raining for hours....time to put the chili plan into action!

What you need:
olive oil
1-2 onions, chopped
2-4 cloves of garlic, diced
1/2-1 bell pepper, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1-2 stalks of normal celery, chopped (or 1 entire bunch of miniature Paraguay celery, pictured)
1 t. chili powder
1/2 t. cumin
1/4 t. cayenne pepper
1 steak, chopped (this kind was called carnaza negra, no idea what cut that is!)
1 C red wine for recipe, at least that much for chef :)
4 cups chicken stock or beef stock or 4 cups water and 1 bullion cube
200 g of kidney beans, pre-soaked**
1 can diced tomatoes
optional garnishes: cilantro, sour cream, grated cheese, tortilla chips
I probably would've added some tomato paste if I had access to it to thicken things up a bit...

**there is this weird thing with red beans about how they are toxic if undercooked. So just to be on the safe side, and to speed up cooking, I soaked them all day, and then rinsed and brought to a boil in new water and let them sit in the hot water while I chopped and prepared everything else. That's them in the pot in the photo!

What to do:
Chop all veggies. Heat olive oil in a big pot and add onion, garlic, pepper, carrot, and celery. Cook until translucent/browned (a few minutes). Add spices and stir. Add chopped meat and allow to brown, but don't worry about cooking it through. Add wine, stock, and kidney beans. **Do not add tomatoes or salt, this will stop or slow down the beans' cooking process.

Cook on low until beans are tender. Mine took about an hour, after the soaking and pre-boiling. Keep in mind my stove's "low"setting is still boiling! Add tomatoes, taste, and adjust seasonings if needed.

If you like, garnish with cilantro, sour cream, shredded cheese, and/or tortilla chips.

I'm sure this would be good with chicken, ground beef, or, if you are lucky enough to have access to it, ground turkey! I just happened to have a steak in the fridge and no desire to walk to the grocery store in the rain! If you try it leave a note in the comments and let me know how it turned out.

*Note for Paraguayans-all ingredients for this were easy to find. Chili powder and cayenne were found at Casa Rica and celery at Agro Shopping. Everything else can be found anywhere.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Curried Peanut Chicken

I made this for a progressive dinner party last night and it was a huge hit! I wasn't really planning on posting it, so I didn't take any pictures, but several friends asked me for the recipe. I adapted it from Kalyn's Kitchen for the stovetop, subbed some ingredients that aren't available here, and added some veggies. I doubled the recipe below for a big group. I've made her original version exactly as is and that's great too! But I don't have a grill here in Paraguay, and I needed to have a vegetarian option.

What you need:
4 chicken breasts
2 cups bite-sized vegetables-I used broccoli, cauliflower, and red bell pepper
rice, prepared as directed on package

1 T. soy sauce
1 T. lemon juice (I can't find lemons here, lime juice worked fine)
1/2 C. of oil-peanut oil if you can find it, vegetable or canola if not
1-2 t. curry powder
1 big garlic clove, minced

4 chicken breasts
2 cups bite-sized vegetables-I used broccoli, cauliflower, and red bell pepper
rice, prepared as directed on package

2 T soy sauce
2 T lemon/lime juice
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup canned coconut milk *
1/2-1 t. cayenne pepper
1/2 t. brown sugar

Optional but really tasty garnishes
chopped green onion

*coconut milk isn't available here. I subbed sweetened condensed milk and splashed in some coconut flavored creamer! It worked in a pinch but if I was able to find coconut milk, I would have used that. I know you hate opening a can when you aren't going to use the whole thing-so pour the extra into an ice cube tray and freeze and save for next time!

What to do:
Mix all marinade ingredients together in a big bowl. Trim fat off of chicken and cut into bite-sized chunks. Dump all the chicken into the bowl, allow to marinate a few hours or longer in the fridge. You could let the veggies marinate with the chicken or dump it all together in the pan when you cook it. I let the chicken marinate most of the day, and added the veggies into the bowl just before cooking.

Make rice according to package directions while the chicken is marinating.

Pour ingredients from the bowl into a pan and cook until chicken is cooked through. You may have to do it in 2 batches, depending on how big your chickens were and how big your pan is. Put aside but keep warm. Put all ingredients for the sauce into a pan and heat on low heat until peanut butter melts. This can scorch easily so stir constantly and don't leave it! As soon as it's melted, it is ready to serve.

To serve, place rice in a bowl, spoon chicken on top, and pour peanut sauce over it. Do not forget to put out garnishes until after everyone has eaten. :)

Make-ahead tip
I was home all day to cook, but the way a progressive dinner party works is, you go to different houses for each course. Since my house was in the middle of the route, I wanted to make as much of this as possible so my guests didn't have to wait around. So I marinated and cooked the chicken and put it in the fridge. Someone brought rice but you could make ahead as well. I also got all the sauce ingredients measured and ready to go. Then when we got to my house, I threw everything from the fridge into a big pot to heat up, put the rice in the microwave, and just made the peanut sauce.

Dietary variations
There was a vegetarian in the group and someone with a deathly peanut allergy-oops! For the vegetarian, I just kept some veggies to the side and used a little of the same marinade. I steamed them but you could also heat up in a pan and serve over rice. The peanut allergy person just got to serve herself first, before people started crossing spoons and things, and omit the sauce.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Chicken Black Bean Tamale Casserole

I'm back! For those readers who don't know me (if there are any), I've been busy moving to a new continent. From the title of this recipe, you'd think I landed in Mexico, but I'm way farther south...Paraguay! So from here on out I'll try to make my recipes a little more international as far as temps and measurements go. I might post some local recipes, but I'll be honest, moving here doesn't mean I know how to make chipa, milanesa, or least not yet.

This recipe was inspired by a slow cooker recipe with beef, found here: Well I don't have a slow cooker anymore, and I prefer chicken, so this is what I came up with!

What you need:

  • 1-2 chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces (shown was about one but I wish I'd used two).
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 C milk
  • 3/4 C corn meal
  • 1 packet of taco seasoning, or make your own
  • 1 C black beans (drain if using canned)
  • 1 can of corn, drained
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes
  • 1 can of sliced olives, unless you took your olives to a pizza party the night before
  • grated cheddar cheese (the original recipe calls for 2 cups but I had a little less)
What to do:
  • Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat, lightly salt and pepper the chicken breasts pieces, and cook through.
  • In a bowl, mix the egg, milk, and corn meal. Add all other ingredients to the bowl and stir.
  • Oil a baking dish (I used a 13x9 inch one)
  • Put meat in the bottom and pour everything in the bowl on the top.
  • Bake at 350 (180 C) for 25-30 minutes, or until mixture starts to solidify. Sprinkle cheese on top and bake for 5 minutes more. Enjoy with tortilla chips!
Here's the mixture before cooking (and topping with cheese)
I have to use a phone app to convert temperatures...

Disclaimers and Tips!
I made my own black beans, which I added onions, diced garlic, and cumin to. If you're using canned beans, you might want to add these as well. I'd throw them in with the chicken.

If they sell "real" cheddar cheese here, I don't know where to buy it. I could only find sliced stuff. I started off trying to grate it, then got lazy and just put the slices on top. :)
Casseroles never look pretty for pictures. But this one tastes good!