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Chicken Carnitas (healthy + super easy!)

January 18, 2015 Leave your thoughts Print this page

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Braising anything is delicious, but when you braise something and THEN pan-fry it? HEAVEN. And that’s exactly what carnitas are.

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After being slow-cooked in a mixture of onions, citrus, and herbs and spices for 8 hours, this chicken is incredibly flavorful by itself…but when you add guacamole, salsa, raw and roasted vegetables, and other accompaniments, you have a plate filled with pure deliciousness. There’s a reason why Chipotle is so popular!

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The plate is messy, but every bite is filled with crunchies, squishies, and overall exquisite taste. This is one of those meals that once you start eating you won’t be able to stop yourself. 😉

The best part is that this dish is a breeze to put together and, while it takes a while to cook, it only requires about 5 minutes of prep-time. The magic here is in the slow cooker which, if you add enough salt and seasonings, makes food that is both super tender and flavorful.

I mean it–don’t skimp on especially the sodium chloride here (*cough* chemistry nerd alert *cough*). When I first started using my slow cooker, everything tasted incredibly bland until I bumped up the salt content…then, all of a sudden, the other flavors burst out like blooming flowers of yumminess. I promise it’s not going to be like sucking on sunflower seeds…it’s going to be a freaking amazing date with cumin, garlic, oregano, thyme, and lemon.

Another secret here is to use juniper berries. They’re an obscure ingredient, so I made it optional, but I’ve found that even adding a few makes a big difference, adding a subtle note of savory richness to the fairly mellow chicken thighs. I got mine at Penzeys, but you should be able to find them at any well-stocked grocery store.

I hesitated on posting this recipe for a while because it’s so flipping straight-forward. But after much persuasion from my mom (and a little spare time to photograph due to a shortened exam schedule), I decided to put this puppy up.

So, basically, you put the chicken in the crock pot and add all of the flavoring components…

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…let everybody hang out for 8 hours…

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…take the chicken out of its luxurious bath…

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…and fry away in olive or coconut oil until crispy heaven is achieved!

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Inspired by this recipe

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Chicken Carnitas

Ingredients

Prep Time 5 min
Cooking Time 8 hr 30 min
Total Time 8 hr 30 min
Yield 6-8 servings

3 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs

1 1/2 teaspoons of salt

A good crack of black pepper

1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon of dried oregano

2 teaspoons of thyme

1 1/2 tablespoons of cumin

2 bay leaves

2 teaspoons of garlic powder

1 medium onion, sliced thinly

The juice of 1 large lemon

6 juniper berries (optional but recommended)

3-4 tablespoons of olive oil or coconut oil

Romaine lettuce, guacamole, salsa, and roasted vegetables, for serving

Directions

In a slow cooker, combine the chicken with all of the remaining ingredients with the exception of the cooking oil and the accompaniments. Cover tightly with the lid and let cook on low for 8 hours.

Remove the chicken from the accumulated liquid (you can let this sit in the fridge overnight and use it for stock) and pat it dry with paper towels.

Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil or coconut oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium heat. When hot, add 1/4 of the chicken pieces, breaking them up slightly with a pair of tongs. Let cook until golden brown on the bottom side, about 3 to 4 minutes, then flip and cook for another few minutes.

Remove to a plate, cover with foil, and repeat with the remaining chicken, adding more 1 tablespoon of oil for each batch to keep the chicken crispy.

Serve on a big plate with raw and roasted vegetables, guacamole, salsa, and a squeeze of lime juice. Slow-cooked black beans would also be delicious here. 🙂


Please don’t forget the toppings. Just don’t. Eating this dish without some avocado involved is a crime against humanity.

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Which do you prefer: guacamole or salsa? Leave me a comment here or on Facebook and let me know!


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Chicken Carnitas

January 16, 2015 Print this page

Braising anything is delicious, but when you braise something and THEN pan-fry it? HEAVEN. This dish is so easy to make and tastes phenomenal every time, so get some ripe avocados for guac and get cooking!

Adapted from this recipe

Ingredients

Prep Time 5 min
Cooking Time 8 hr 30 min
Total Time 8 hr 30 min
Yield 6-8 servings

3 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs

1 1/2 teaspoons of salt

A good crack of black pepper

1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon of dried oregano

2 teaspoons of thyme

1 1/2 tablespoons of cumin

2 bay leaves

2 teaspoons of garlic powder

1 medium onion, sliced thinly

The juice of 1 large lemon

6 juniper berries (optional but recommended)

3-4 tablespoons of olive oil or coconut oil

Romaine lettuce, guacamole, salsa, and roasted vegetables, for serving

Directions

In a slow cooker, combine the chicken with all of the remaining ingredients with the exception of the cooking oil and the accompaniments. Cover tightly with the lid and let cook on low for 8 hours.

Remove the chicken from the accumulated liquid (you can let this sit in the fridge overnight and use it for stock) and pat it dry with paper towels.

Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil or coconut oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium heat. When hot, add 1/4 of the chicken pieces, breaking them up slightly with a pair of tongs. Let cook until golden brown on the bottom side, about 3 to 4 minutes, then flip and cook for another few minutes.

Remove to a plate, cover with foil, and repeat with the remaining chicken, adding more 1 tablespoon of oil for each batch to keep the chicken crispy.

Serve on a big plate with raw and roasted vegetables, guacamole, salsa, and a squeeze of lime juice. Slow-cooked black beans would also be delicious here. 🙂


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Poussin Bonaparte

February 24, 2014 Leave your thoughts Print this page

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Just admit it: this is the cutest, goofiest chicken you have ever seen in your entire life.

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I mean, just look at it! It has a BACON. SASH. This is one classy bird, folks.

When I’m at the butcher, I’m always on the prowl for something new, something intimidating. I love to challenge myself with unfamiliar ingredients and go foraging through books and the internet in attempts to figure out how to cook them. You could call it a bit of an obsession of mine.

Crispy sweet breads. Pig tails. Goose. I’ve tried a lot of “unusual” cuts and animals over the course of the past year. While peeling the membranes off of the sweet breads was far from appealing and removing the entire breast from my goose had me groaning in frustration, almost all of my attempts have turned out deliciously. (Unfortunately, my mom is still a little squeamish about lamb kidneys. I’ll work on her. One day.)

Out of all of the oddies I’ve tried, poussin has to be one of my and my family’s favorites. It’s a rarity at the butcher, but when I see little packages about as big as my hand in the freezer, I snag ’em. Even though poussin are really, yes, just young chicken, they are so freaking adorable that I can never resist the temptation.

Sadly, there aren’t many recipes for poussin online, but if you google recipes for the tiny bird, something called Poussin Bonaparte will pop up right away.  Basically, it’s a poussin, roasted upright with a root vegetable up its posterior and a strip of bacon around its chest. What could be bad?

If you’re a little scared to try preparing a chicken this tiny, don’t be! My recipe is a piece of cake to put together and requires only a handful of ingredients, so you’ll be on your way to a fun, tasty dinner in no time. Just remember, when in doubt, use a thermometer and common sense. They are two of a cook’s best tools.

Ready to give poussin a try? Good. Let’s get started.

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About an hour before you want to eat, take your poussin out of the fridge and pat each one dry with a paper towel. Rub salt all over their skins and in their cavities and let sit at room temperature for 45 minutes to an hour. (This will really help the flavors develop and tenderize the meat!)

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees and grease a large roasting pan with a little coconut oil or ghee. Set aside.

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Take out two big, fat, chunky carrots. (They need to be tough to be able to hold up the poussin!) Cut off either end of both and slice in half width-wise, leaving you with four fairly strong pieces of carrot. Set aside.

Get your four salted-and-at-room-temperature poussin ready. Mount each bird on top of each piece of carrot, trimming off an inch or so at the bottom of the carrot until the poussin can stand up on its own. Place all four in the large roasting pan you already greased, and smear them all with 2 tablespoons of melted ghee, butter, or coconut oil.

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If you’re feeling fancy, wrap a strip of bacon from one of the poussin’s shoulders to its opposite hip. This will give each of your birds a little “sash!”

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Roast for 45 minutes to an hour, or until a thermometer in the breast reaches 165 degrees and thigh reaches 175 degrees. The skin (or at least the top half) should be crisped at this point.

Let the poussin cool for at least five minutes before removing the carrots and serving. (You can eat the carrots, too–they’ll have amazing flavor!)

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What is your favorite kind of poultry? Leave me a comment here or on Facebook and let me know!


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Poussin Bonaparte

February 23, 2014 Print this page

Just admit it: this is the cutest, goofiest chicken you have ever seen in your entire life. I mean, just look at it! It has a BACON. SASH. This is one classy bird, folks. And it’s SO easy to make.

Ingredients

Prep Time 1 hr
Cooking Time 45 min
Total Time 1 hr 45 min
Yield 8 servings

4 poussin (figure 1/2 a poussin per person)

Salt

2 big, fat, chunky carrots

2 tablespoons of melted ghee, butter, or coconut oil

4 strips of bacon

Directions

About an hour before you want to eat, take your poussin out of the fridge and pat each one dry with a paper towel. Rub salt all over their skins and in their cavities and let sit at room temperature for 45 minutes to an hour. (This will really help the flavors develop and tenderize the meat!)

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees and grease a large roasting pan with a little coconut oil or ghee. Set aside.

Take out the big, fat, chunky carrots. (They need to be tough to be able to hold up the poussin!) Cut off either end of both and slice in half width-wise, leaving you with four fairly strong pieces of carrot. Set aside.

Get your four salted-and-at-room-temperature poussin ready. Mount each bird on top of each piece of carrot, trimming off an inch or so at the bottom of the carrot until the poussin can stand up on its own. Place all four in the large roasting pan you already greased.

If you’re feeling fancy, wrap a strip of bacon from one of the poussin’s shoulders to its opposite hip. This will give each of your birds a little “sash!”

Roast for 45 minutes to an hour, or until a thermometer in the breast reaches 165 degrees and thigh reaches 175 degrees. The skin (or at least the top half) should be crisped at this point.

Let the poussin cool for at least five minutes before removing the carrots and serving. (You can eat the carrots, too–they’ll have amazing flavor!)


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Homemade Tandoori Chicken

October 27, 2013 Print this page

Adapting Aarti Sequeira’s recipe, I take boneless, skinless chicken thighs and turn them into flavorful awesomeness. Tastes great with roasted cauliflower.

Ingredients

Prep Time 4 hr 15 min
Cooking Time 25 min
Total Time 4 hr 40 min
Yield 4 servings

FOR THE SPICES:

2 pods of green cardamom

1 pod of black cardamom

3 cloves

2 guajillo chiles

1/2 teaspoon of fenugreek seeds

1 teaspoon of salt

1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon

1 teaspoon of garlic powder

1 teaspoon of ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon of turmeric

Pinch of paprika

FOR THE MARINADE:

The created spice mixture OR 3 heaping tablespoons of Tandoori spice

1 1/2 cups of yogurt (preferably full-fat or low-fat)

The juice of 1 lemon

1/4 cup of extra-virgin olive oil (can be substituted with liquefied coconut oil)

2-3 pounds of boneless, skinless chicken thighs

Coconut oil, for greasing

FOR THE SAUCE:

2 heaping tablespoons of tomato paste

1 tablespoon of honey (can be substituted with raw coconut nectar or maple syrup)

1/2 cup of water

Directions

Toast the seeds of the green cardamom and the seeds of the black cardamom, cloves, and guajillo chilies in a small skillet over medium heat. Once you start to smell the spices (about 3-4 minutes later), pour everything into a spice or coffee grinder and blend to a fine powder.

Add the spice mixture to a medium-sized bowl with the yogurt, lemon juice, extra-virgin olive oil, fenugreek seeds, salt, cinnamon, garlic powder, ground ginger, turmeric, and paprika paprika. Stir well to combine.

Lay out theboneless, skinless chicken thighs in a dish and, with a fork, stab each piece like it’s Caesar. (Et tu, Brute?) Pour the marinade all over the chicken and make sure each piece is sufficiently smothered. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, and preferably 8-24.

Turn on your broiler to low and line a baking sheet with tinfoil. Place a wire rack atop it and lightly grease with some coconut oil.

Take the chicken out of the marinade and spread it out on the wire rack. Don’t toss the marinade!

Broil the chicken on an oven rack about 4-6 inches away from the heat source. Cook on one side until beginning to char, about 15 minutes, then flip over and cook on the other side for an additional 10-15 minutes, depending on how hungry you are and how crispy you like it.

While the chicken turns into magical tasty goodness, make the sauce. Pour the remaining marinade into a small saucepan with the tomato paste, honey, and water. Bring to a boil over medium heat, then reduce heat to low to thicken.

Serve the chicken with the sauce and some roasted cauliflower.


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