APRICOT AND BALSAMIC GLAZED CHICKEN THIGHS

Simple to the limit. Very tasty. If you have a pressure cooker or the famous InstantPot, you can have this main dish at your table any night of the week. I got the idea for it from a delicious shredded chicken I made also under pressure. For this one, I changed the flavors and reduced the cooking time so that the pieces of chicken would still hold together.  Probably excellent with orange marmalade instead of apricot jam. Hey, go wild and try mango jam, if you have it around.

APRICOT AND BALSAMIC GLAZED CHICKEN THIGHS
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

¼ cup apricot jam
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tsp dried thyme (or 2 to 3 tsp fresh)

In a small bowl, whisk the jam and vinegar together until very smooth. Depending on how thick your jam is, add a small amount of warm water to help loosening the mixture a bit. Reserve.

Heat the olive oil in a pressure cooker set over medium heat. Season the chicken with salt and pepper, then brown on both sides (do it in batches if needed).  Return all the pieces to the pot.

Pour the jam-vinegar mixture over the meat; add the thyme.  Add some water to bring the liquid about 1/3 of the heigh of the chicken pieces.  Lock the lid onto the pressure cooker and bring it to full pressure.  Cook for 15 minutes. Release pressure manually, if needed reduce the liquid by simmering for a few minutes.

Adjust seasoning and serve with your side dish of choice.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

We enjoyed it with our favorite rice of the moment, easy Tahdig-Rice, which I blogged about in my latest Incredibly Simple series.  Some sauteed asparagus rounded our meal pretty nicely. If you like a bit more spice, add a touch of Harissa or Sriracha to the jam mixture. I intend to try that next time.

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CHERRY CHIPOTLE CHICKEN THIGHS

Oddly enough, this chicken recipe was born from a batch of French macarons. I know, how could it be? It turns out that I made a filling for macarons using white chocolate ganache and sour cherry jam. Quite a bit of jam was left in the jar, and I knew it would sit in the fridge at the risk of being forgotten. Why not put it to use in a savory recipe? I adapted bits from a few cookbooks, and came up with a pressure cooker version for chicken thighs that had some sweetness, some spice, some sourness, and what I love the most: that falling-apart texture.  I hope you give it a try.

CHERRY CHIPOTLE SHREDDED CHICKEN
(from the Bewitching Kitchen, adapted from several sources)

One 28-ounce can whole tomatoes
1/2 cup sour cherry jam
¼ cup packed dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tsp salt
1 canned chipotle in adobo sauce, stemmed, seeded, and minced
1 tablespoons paprika
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
3 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs, trimmed

Place the tomatoes, jam, brown sugar, vinegar, salt, chipotle, paprika, Worcestershire sauce, cinnamon, and cloves in a blender. Blend and pour the smooth sauce in a pressure cooker.

Add the boneless chicken thighs, whole. Close the pressure cooker (or Instant Pot) and bring to full pressure. Cook for 20 minutes,  release the pressure manually, and remove the chicken pieces to a cutting board. Shred the meat with two forks (it should be very tender). 

Add the shredded meat back to the sauce, heat gently for a few minutes, adjust seasoning (you may need a bit more salt).  Serve over rice or the side dish of your choice. Also great as a filling for fajitas.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: As a good Brazilian-American, I use my pressure cooker all year, but of course now that the temperature outside starts to fall down, this type of comfort food shows up more often in our menu. On weeknights, the pressure cooker is the best tool to have a meal with that aura of hours and hours in the making, materialize in the blink of an eye. Well, a few blinks. Not that many, though.

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TURKEY CHILI UNDER PRESSURE

Yes, my pressure cooker has been working hard these days. Only last week I shared a recipe for chicken thighs, and now a very nice chili made in 30 minutes. Thanks to the power of pressure, it delivered the same luscious flavor of one left on the stove top for hours, simmering away.  I was not too fond of beans in chili, in fact it’s the first time I made it this way. It won’t be the last. Surprising how well the flavors mingle, with the beans giving a nice creamy feel to the chili without any addition of extra fat.

TURKEY CHILI IN THE PRESSURE COOKER
(adapted from The Great Big Pressure Cooker Book)

1 T olive oil
1.5 pounds ground turkey (I used 93% lean)
1/2 onion, diced (optional, I omitted)
2 ribs of celery, diced
1.5 teaspoons salt
black pepper
1 tablespoon chili
1 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 can stewed tomatoes (about 14 oz)
1 can fire-roasted diced tomatoes (about 14 oz, I used Muir Glen)
1 can white kidney beans, well-rinsed
1/2 cup water (if needed)
garnishes of your choice

Heat the olive oil in the pressure cooker, add the onion and celery, season lightly with salt and pepper. Sautee until translucent and fragrant. Add the ground turkey and cook in high heat until well-seared. Add the salt, pepper, chili powder, paprika and cumin.  Mix well.

Add the tomatoes, kidney beans, and enough water to almost cover the meat, if needed.  Close the pressure cooker, let it come up to full pressure, and cook for 20 minutes.

Release the pressure quickly, and if needed, reduce the liquid by simmering for a few minutes with the lid open.

Serve with the garnishes of your choice.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: Some recipes for turkey chili call for a huge amount of fat in the form of sour cream and cheese. I’ve seen recipes very similar to this one, except for the fact that before serving 3/4 cup of sour cream and 1 cup of shredded cheese would be added, and simmered for a few minutes. Honestly, I don’t see the need. The white beans provide all the creamy feeling we might crave. We enjoyed it quite simply with some diced avocados. This was a comforting chili that did not leave us prostrated on the sofa for a couple of hours. Perfect. The picture above was taken when I re-heated the meal for serving. I had prepared it in the morning for our Sunday dinner. As it is always the case for this type of concoction, it gets better next day. You can do it in the Instant Pot, and you can do it in a regular pan, just cook until super tender, probably 90 minutes or so would be ideal. Come to think of it, the crock pot might come in handy too…

Note to self: try to always keep some parsley or cilantro in the fridge!

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FESENJAN, FAST-FOOD STYLE

When you buy a container with fresh pomegranate seeds from the store, you need to put it to use before the husband hits said container and inhales them all while watching Broadchurch late at night. I managed to salvage enough seeds to showcase them over a favorite of mine, Fesenjan. Yes, I’ve blogged about it in the past (click here), but this time I used the pressure cooker and really enjoyed the added lusciousness-factor the method provided. If you have a pressure cooker,  or the fashionable instant pot, you can turn this classic into fast-food. Can you imagine so much joy on a weeknight dinner?

FESENJAN
(slightly adapted from A Calculated Whisk)

6 ounces walnut halves, lightly toasted
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut in half
1 teaspoon sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 shallot, chopped
1 teaspoon turmeric
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground cardamon
1/2 cup chicken stock
1/4 cup pomegranate molasses
2 tablespoons honey
½ cup pomegranate seeds, for serving
chopped fresh cilantro, for serving

Place the toasted walnuts in a food processor and grind them to a coarse powder. Reserve.

On a large skillet or in the pressure cooker (on the instant pot), heat the olive oil and add the chicken pieces seasoned with salt and pepper. Brown them lightly, if necessary in two batches. Reserve.  Add the shallots, saute’ for a couple of minutes, then add the turmeric, cinnamon and cardamon. Stir until fragrant. Pour in the chicken stock. If using a skillet, transfer the mixture to the pressure cooker now.

Add the ground walnuts, pomegranate molasses and honey. Stir to combine, Close the pressure cooker and once full pressure is achieved, cook for 15 minutes. Release the pressure, if the sauce is too thin, cook for a few minutes with the lid open to reduce it.
Serve the chicken with fresh pomegranate seeds and cilantro leaves scattered on top.
 
 ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

 

Comments: If you don’t have a pressure cooker (or an Instant Pot) you can obviously adapt it for a regular pan, just cook it on a very low simmer for 45 minutes to one hour. I like the chicken to be super tender.  Pomegranate molasses is a great ingredient to have in your pantry. You can cook down pomegranate juice with sugar to the point of a syrup, and use that instead, but the convenience of opening a bottle is hard to beat. If you’d like to make it from scratch, here is a good method.

Fesenjan goes well over white rice, over Persian rice (see my version here), or cauliflower rice for those who prefer to follow a low-carb route. Leftovers enjoyed inside a corn tortilla are a no-no. If you know a food blogger who admits in public to doing that, stop following her (or him) immediately.

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LUSCIOUS CHICKEN NOODLE SOUP

Perhaps you would think that the time for blogging about soup is pretty much over. But two facts conspired to bring it to our table. First, Phil got a little cold, and second, the weather turned pretty nasty. Forecast for Saturday and Sunday: chilly and full-time rain. Great combination for a rotten weekend. I will disclose to you that we do resort to Campbell’s canned soup sometimes. Yes, it’s not that great, but whenever we feel like we might be getting a bit sick, we buy a couple of cans and call them dinner. I squirt a little lemon juice over my bowl, freshly ground black pepper, and it does a reasonably ok job. But, this time I decided to take this classic soup medicine into my own hands. I would start by making my own chicken broth and use that to cook chicken thighs until  fork-tender. I won’t be humble. This was one spectacular chicken noodle soup. Even if for my bowl I used zoodles instead.

CHICKEN NOODLE SOUP
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

A pressure cooker is preferred, but not mandatory

for the chicken stock:
2 pounds of chicken wings
2 carrots, cut in chunks
1 celery rib, cub in chunks
1/2 large onion
10 whole peppercorns
1 piece of ginger, about 1/2 inch
1 piece of kombu, about 3 inches long
1 bay leaf
7 cups of water

for the soup:
6 chicken thighs, skinless, with bone-in
4 medium carrots, diced
2 ribs celery, diced
chicken broth, as much as needed
salt and pepper to taste
fresh lemon juice to taste
cooked noodles or zoodles

Start by making the chicken broth. Mix all ingredients in a large stockpot or pressure cooker. If using a pressure cooker, cook for 40 minutes under pressure, release steam, open the pan, strain the stock. If using a regular pan, simmer for at least one hour, preferable an hour and a half.

Return about 2 cups of broth and 1 cup of water to the pressure cooker, add the chicken pieces seasoned with salt and pepper. Cook under pressure for 20 minutes. Alternatively, simmer in a regular pan until the meat is very tender. Remove the pieces of chicken to a bowl, allow it to cool until you can handle it.

As the chicken cools, return the pressure cooker to the stove, add the carrots, celery, cook under pressure for 5 minutes, or in a regular pan until the veggies are tender. The base of the soup is now ready.  Shred the chicken with a fork or your fingers. Reserve.

When it’s time to enjoy the soup, cook some noodles (or zoodles) in boiling salted water.  Re-warm the soup by mixing the soup base, the reserved chicken meat, and any reserved stock until the consistency is the way you like. Squirt fresh lemon juice, adjust seasoning if needed with salt and pepper. Place some cooked noodles in your serving bowl, ladle the soup over, and…

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: I got the inspiration for this soup from a couple of sources. For instance, the use of kombu in the chicken stock came from the book The Longevity Kitchen. It is an interesting ingredient, one that I advise you to use just like you would fish sauce. Don’t sniff it. Big turn off. But it does a great job, not only nutritionally speaking, but in terms of flavor. The stock made with chicken wings has been my method of choice for years now, after a basic recipe found in one of my favorite cookbooks  Simple to Spectacular. I pumped it up by using the pressure cooker, and it does a great job extracting all flavors and goodies from the wings. In the composite photo you can see the color of the stock (upper left), no photoshopping was involved.

You will notice that I used the pressure cooker three times in a row, but you can do it all in a regular pan. Make sure to allow the wings to simmer for one full hour at least, and the chicken thighs until very tender. I’ve seen recipes recommending a 10 minute simmer, and I have no idea what those people are talking about. You would have to pretty much wrestle the meat off the bone with such a quick cooking.

All in all, this was so good that I had to blog right away. Contrary to what normally happens, you are reading on Wednesday a recipe we enjoyed only three days earlier. Also contrary to my principles, with this post I line two articles in a row involving chicken. Oh, well. That shows you how much I enjoyed this recipe, I simply could not wait to share.  I hope you’ll give it a try if you are headed to winter where you live, or if someone is feeling lousy with a cold. Heck, try it if you simply love chicken noodle soup. No other reason needed!

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