The air-fryer does it, friends! If you don’t have one you can still adapt to a regular oven, but I tell you, the texture and how easy it all happens is hard to beat. Ever since we invested in a model with a bigger basket, I’ve been using it all the time.
PROSCIUTTO-WRAPPED CHICKEN BREASTS (from The Bewitching Kitchen)
3 chicken breasts, boneless and skinless juice of a lemon salt and pepper to taste slices of prosciutto spray of olive oil
Squirt a very small amount of lemon juice over the chicken breasts, season lightly with salt and pepper, rubbing the mixture all over.
Lay 2 slices of prosciutto overlapping slightly over a board, place one chicken breast over it and wrap the prosciutto around. Carefully place the meat in the air-fryer basket, with the seam side down. Repeat with all other pieces. Spray them with a little olive oil and air-fry at 400F (or as high as your machine goes) for 15 to 20 minutes, flipping the meat midway through. You can check the temperature with a probe thermometer if you prefer a little more precision, going for 160F.
Allow it to sit at room temperature for a few minutes before slicing.
Comments: I made this twice already and will be repeating it soon, because we really liked it a lot. Prosciutto tends to be expensive, that is the only drawback and you do need two slices per breast. We enjoyed it with green beans with almonds and plain rice, it was a quick and very delicious dinner.
Are you familiar with Mexican mole sauces? Well, this is not it. It goes in that direction, but it is much, much simpler. Moles are notoriously complex to make, requiring hours of simmering and a long list of ingredients. This sauce is very simple by comparison. I was inspired by a few recipes from Pati Jinich of PBS fame, and cooked it under pressure. You can use an Instant Pot or simply braise it for a longer time.
CHICKEN WITH PASILLA-PECAN SAUCE (inspired by Pati Jinich)
2 tablespoons grapeseed oil 8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs 3 cups chicken stock 3/4 cup pecans 4 prunes 2 pasilla dried chilis, stemmed and seeds removed 1 medium shallot, peeled, cut in half 1 cup strained tomatoes (I used Pomi) salt and pepper to taste
Start by making the sauce. Add the dried pasillas to a super hot skillet and dry cook them on both sides until they get soft and fragrant. Reserve. Broil the shallot or dry roast it in the pan together with the pepper.
Heat the chicken stock in a saucepan, add the pasillas, broiled shallots, pecans, and prunes. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Simmer gently for 10 minutes. Add the contents of the pan to a high-power blender (I used a Vitamix), and process until full smooth.
Heat the oil in your pressure cooker or instant pot, season the chicken pieces with salt and pepper, and brown them on both sides, four pieces at a time. Remove to a bowl as they are done. When they are all browned, remove the excess oil from the pan, leaving about 1 tablespoon behind. Add the chicken back to the pressure cooker, pour 1 cup strained tomatoes and 1 cup of the pasilla sauce. Close the pan, bring to full pressure and cook for 20 minutes. Release the pressure (quickly is ok), and if needed, simmer down the sauce. Adjust seasoning, and serve with your side dishes of choice, or shred the meat and wrap in tortillas.
Comments: We both loved this take on chicken thighs. You can serve this with rice and beans, you can serve it with tortillas and some salsa, but I opted for a simple sweet potato puree and broccoli. The sauce is super flavorful, so it will go well with pretty much any side dish you want: couscous, rice pilaf, even pasta or polenta. Don’t worry, call it fusion cuisine. The pasilla-pecan sauce will make more than you need for this recipe, so you can freeze it for later.
If you don’t own a pressure cooker, just brown the meat, add the sauce, cover tightly and simmer gently until cooked through, probably 50 minutes or so, depending on how tender you like it. I have not tried it with chicken thighs on the bone and with the skin on, but if you brown the skin well, I don’t see any problems. It will have a lot more fat in the end, though.
We harvested very nice peppers from our garden, and I wanted to make one of Phil’s favorite dishes, Chile Rellenos. However, I wanted a version that would not be overloaded with cheese, which is not very common. The husband found a recipe online that seemed to fit the bill for us, and I went to work. It was involved, time-consuming, but absolutely worth it!
for the sauce: 10 plum tomatoes, diced 3 pints cherry tomatoes, halved 2 teaspoons kosher salt, more as needed ¼ cup grapeseed oil 1 large shallot, diced 2 Serrano chiles, thinly sliced 2 cups carrot juice 1 cup chicken stock
For the Rellenos: 2 tablespoons grapeseed oil 1 shallot, diced 1 small Granny Smith apple, diced 1 + 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt ¼ cup raisins 2 tablespoons cider vinegar 1 tablespoon light brown sugar 1 pound ground pork (I used ground turkey) ⅛ teaspoon crushed red-pepper flakes 8 poblano chiles ¾ cup all-purpose flour
For the Batter: 4 egg yolks, lightly beaten 6 egg whites Fine sea salt, as needed Canola oil, for frying
Prepare the sauce: In a large bowl, toss plum and cherry tomatoes with 1 teaspoon salt. Use your hands to smush the tomatoes until their skins soften and break apart, then let sit for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, in large pan, heat oil over medium heat. Add shallot, sliced chiles and ½ teaspoon kosher salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are softened but not browned. Stir in tomatoes and their liquid, bring to a simmer, and continue to simmer for 20 minutes. Stir in carrot juice, stock and ½ teaspoon salt, and simmer for another 20 minutes. Use an immersion blender (or transfer mixture to a regular blender) and blend briefly; the mixture should still be somewhat chunky.
Make the filling: In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the shallot, apple, and salt, and cook, stirring, until the apples and shallot soften, 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in raisins, vinegar and brown sugar, and cook until reduced to a glaze, about 4 minutes. Stir in ground pork (or turkey) and red-pepper flakes, and use a metal spoon to break up the pork into pieces. Cook until pork is no longer pink and much of the liquid has evaporated, about 10 minutes. Raise the heat and let the pork take on a little color at the edges, 5 to 10 minutes longer. Reserve.
Roast the poblanos: Heat the broiler, and line a rimmed baking sheet with foil. Arrange poblanos in an even layer, and broil until blackened on one side, 4 to 6 minutes. Turn over and blacken the other side, another 4 to 6 minutes, then transfer to a large heat-proof bowl. Cover and let steam until softened, 10 to 15 minutes. Peel the blackened skin off the poblanos, then cut a slit in one side of each pepper and remove seeds (keep the stems). Stuff the poblanos with the filling, folding poblano seams together. Place flour on a plate, and gently roll stuffed peppers in flour to coat. Transfer to a rimmed baking sheet and freeze for 20 to 30 minutes.
Make the batter: Place egg yolks in a large bowl and beat until frothy. Place egg whites in the bowl of an electric mixer and whip to stiff peaks. Fold the egg yolks into the whites, along with a pinch of salt. Heat 1¼ inches of vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When hot, dip one pepper by its stem into egg batter, then transfer to hot oil. Fry until golden on all sides, about 3 to 4 minutes per side. Repeat with remaining peppers, making sure not to crowd the pan. Transfer fried peppers as they cook to a wire rack placed over a rimmed baking sheet, and immediately sprinkle with salt.
When all the peppers are fried, reheat sauce. Lower peppers into sauce and simmer for 2 to 3 minutes, so the batter absorbs the sauce. Transfer to serving plates and spoon more sauce on top.
Comments: As you know, I don’t lie. This is a bit of a cooking marathon, so I advise you to do what I did, spread the preparation over two days. The day before I made the sauce, including juicing the carrots myself. Easy decision once I saw the price of 100% pure carrot juice versus going to work. I also made the filling. Next day, I roasted the peppers, and the final preparation was painless. I kept the amount of sauce and filling the same, but only made 6 rellenos, so I reduced the amount of batter. There was leftover filling and a little leftover sauce. Two nice items to have around for a quick lunch.
The best tip of this recipe is freezing the rellenos after coating with flour. It makes all the difference in the world, they hold the shape better and make your life easier. Think of incorporating that step if you use a different recipe.
We ate like kings, this is a real keeper. I won’t say that we’ll be making it all the time because it is a labor of love, but it is a great project for weekend cooking or for having company over.
Zucchini is a delicious vegetable but pretty tricky to stir-fry, as it can go mushy super quickly. Today I share a recipe that deals with this problem and results in a nice one-pot meal, flavorful and easy to put together. Just keep in mind you’ll need 30 minutes to draw the juices out of the zucchini slices, which is about the same time the chicken will need to marinate. Perfect timing!
ORIENTAL-STYLE CHICKEN AND ZUCCHINI STIR-FRY (from the Bewitching Kitchen)
3 medium zucchini, thinly sliced 2 teaspoons salt 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut in 1/2 inch pieces
to marinate the meat: 2 tablespoons soy sauce 2 tablespoons dry sherry 2 teaspoons baking soda 1 teaspoon cornstarch
for stir-fry: 2 tablespoons peanut oil 1 bell pepper, sliced thin 1/2 Serrano pepper, finely minced 1/2 cup water 1 tablespoon hoisin sauce 1 tablespoon soy sauce 1 tsp sesame oil 2 tsp cornstarch salt to taste roasted peanuts, about 1/3 cup fresh cilantro leaves to serve
Prepare the zucchini by adding it to a large bowl and sprinkling the salt all over. Leave it at room temperature for 30 minutes. Rinse briefly to remove the salt, dry the slices over paper towel. They are now ready to use.
Marinate the chicken by mixing sherry, soy sauce, cornstarch and baking soda in a small bowl, and adding to the meat. Leave it for 30 minutes at room temperature.
Make the finishing sauce by mixing water, hoisin, soy, sesame oil and cornstarch. Reserve.
Heat the oil on a wok, add the chicken pieces and fry until golden brown on all sides. Remove to a bowl, add more oil if needed, sauté the bell pepper and Serrano pepper for a couple of minutes, seasoning lightly with salt. Increase the heat to high, add the zucchini slices, move them around for 10 seconds or so, add the chicken back, stir fry everything together for a minute. Add the finishing sauce, and heat it all together until it thickens slightly. Add peanuts, cilantro, and serve over steamed white rice.
Comments: I really like the fact that marinating the meat and prepping the zucchini takes the same amount of time. Once that is out of the way, dinner will be ready in minutes, and all textures will be perfect. The zucchini cooks so quickly that you can also add it together with the finishing sauce and just heat it for a few minutes until it all thickens, making it even simpler. If you like more heat, add Sriracha or any other type of chili oil. Of course, for most people garlic and onion sauté with the bell peppers will be great too. As I always say, your kitchen, your rules… But definitely give this a try, you will not look at zucchini stir-fry the same way…
Comments: Two of my best buddies are Gochujang and Sriracha. I like to drizzle Sriracha over turkey burgers or other things ready to eat, but Gochujang I prefer to cook with. I find it a bit too strong on its own. In this marinade it is the dominant flavor, but unless you really dislike spicy food, it is not overpowering. I was quite amazed by how tasty leftovers turned out even when tortured fora couple of minutes in the microwave. We had them with air-fried zucchini (which I did not do a good job, over-crowded the basket and they turned out mushy), and British-style roasted potatoes (Sally pats herself on the back, they were perfect).