Braised Beef and Basil Chimichurri

I would like to send out prayers, thoughts, and good vibes to everyone out here on the West coast that’s being affected by all of these terrible wildfires. We’re not exactly close to where the actual fires are occurring, but the smoke has been traveling down to where we are, and the air quality has suffered terribly from it.

It’s a terrible situation–one that I hope will pass soon, and that the rebuilding efforts for all of those affected can proceed as best as they can.

How do you guys like to eat your steak?

I’ll go first, and be honest: my go to is a medium tri-tip with A1 on the side. Even if the steak is fantastic enough to eat completely on its own, I still like that primo steak sauce. I’ve only had one steak, ever (at an Emeril Lagasse restaurant) where the steak was delicious enough to where I turned down the A1 completely. Y’all can judge me if you want, but that’s just the way I like it.

I mention my general steak preferences because with this recipe, I kinda stepped outside of my comfort zone and tried something that I had never even eaten before, let alone cooked for myself. I braise beef all the time, but chimmichurri was uncharted territory. I knew that it was green and that it was eaten with food like tacos. But I had no idea what it was supposed to taste like, or if I would even like it myself.

Having now made it, I can now report back to all of you that I now know several things about making & eating chimmichurri, namely that I DO like it, very much. I’ve seen several variations with various herbs used here and there, but I decided to keep things simple for my first time. I use a base of fresh basil and oregano–two herbs that I think play really well against each other. I also put in a very generous amount of garlic, because I love it and because I can. But what REALLY brings all the flavors of the chimmichurri together is the balsamic vinegar that gets added at the very end–the acidity cuts through the sharpness of that garlic and makes the freshness of the herbs that much more fresher.

I kept the seasoning on the braised beef really traditional, on purpose. I’m glad that I did that. It’s a perfectly delicious pot of meat all on its own by the time it’s done, but once you add the basil chimmichurri to the savory beef, the beef moves away from being something you’d typically associate with stick to your ribs food for the autumn, and kinda reminded me of something I’d like to eat in the summertime on a porch deck. So I guess it’s kind of a best of both worlds thing.

*******************************************************************

Braised Beef & Basil Chimichurri

Recipe Adapted from Epicurious

Ingredients

  • 4-5 lbs of beef sirloin, (you can also use top blade steak, chuck roast or tri tip that you cut into large chunks)
  • A few dashes of low sodium soy sauce
  • 8 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 1/4 cup whole grain mustard
  • 2 heaping tablespoons of your favorite steak seasoning; I used The Gourmet Collection’s Pepper Steak Spice Blend. You can find it at TJ Maxx/HomeGoods)
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar (light or dark, doesn’t matter)
  • 2 teaspoons black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon fresh oregano leaves, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1/2 cup oil (olive, vegetable or canola will all work), plus more for searing
  • 1 large onion
  • 2-3 cups low sodium chicken broth (the meat is going to release more liquid in the oven, this is just to make sure it’s submerged enough to braise)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Onion powder, Garlic Powder

For Chimichurri Sauce

  • 8 oz fresh basil, chopped
  • 4 oz fresh oregano, chopped
  • 8-10 cloves of garlic, finely minced
  • 1/2 cup (olive, vegetable or canola will all work)
  • salt, pepper to taste
  • 1-2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

Directions

In a small bowl, combine the soy sauce, garlic, mustard, brown sugar, pepper, oregano leaves, smoked paprika and oil. Stir together until it forms a paste. Set aside

Rub the meat with the steak seasoning on both sides, then place it inside 2 resealable gallon size bags. Evenly divide and pour the seasoning paste over the meat. Reseal the bags, then turn/toss the bags around, massaging the paste into the meat so that it’s evenly seasoned. Refrigerate overnight.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Heat a few tablespoons of oil in the bottom of a Dutch oven or other heavy pot, bring it to a high heat, just before it smokes. Sear the meat on both sides until browned (in batches if need be), then remove to a plate.

Saute the onions in the leftover drippings for about 5 minutes until they’re softened/translucent. Add the bay leaf and chicken broth and stir, allowing it to come up to a simmer. Taste and adjust for seasoning (I added plenty of onion powder, garlic powder and pepper).

Place the meat back in the pot, (or you can remove it to a 13 x 9 baking dish) cover tightly with either a lid or foil, then place in the oven. Allow to braise for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, until the meat is tender and can be pulled easily with a fork.

Meanwhile, make the chimichurri sauce: place the basil, oregano and garlic together in a food processor or a blender. Pulse a few times, then blend on high until they’re finely minced/combined. Remove to a medium bowl, then slowly drizzle in the oil, whisking together with a whisk or fork. Add salt & pepper, then 1 tablespoon of the vinegar. Taste it and if desired, add the second tablespoon. Serve on top of the braised beef.

I’m very pleased to be co-hosting this week’s Fiesta Friday # 250 along with Jenny @ Apply To Face Blog.Jhuls @ The Not So Creative Cook and Judi @ cookingwithauntjuju.com. Please join us!

Hoisin Pork Lettuce Wraps

Y’all, can I half-way complain about something? Just for a few minutes. I promise I’ll make this quick.

I’m in my third year of living on the West coast now. I’m well aware by now that the weather here is much warmer, for much longer than it was in the Mitten at this time of year. I know that we don’t get to really see the seasons ‘change’. I know that corn mazes, apple orchards, and sweater weather aren’t really a ‘thing’ outchea.

I miss all of the above, but I’m still fine with going without all of that. There’s just one thing that is really starting to bug me.

I am so sick of the heat.

Seriously. I’m not just over it, I’m overBOARD it. I kinda expect those summer temperatures to carry into September, but by the time October rolls around, I’m kinda ready for them to move along on their way. And they haven’t. They haven’t gone ANYWHERE. Like I said, I’m not exactly expecting sweater weather but I’d at least be able to walk home without getting sweaty.

AND ANOTHER THING. This weather is really putting a damper on my autumn appetite.

Y’all get autumn appetites too, right?

Much like in the summer, I have a massive appetite for things like charcoal BBQ, lots of fruit and whipped cream and lemonade. But as we roll into October, my summer appetite starts to fade and my autumn appetite starts to rev its engine.

And suddenly, all I want is comfort, stick-to-your-ribs food: stew, chili, pot roast, cornbread, apple cider, cinnamon sugary stuff. All of the things that warm you up from the inside out and make you want to take a nap.

But guess what? I’m not really in the mood for food that warms me up on the inside when I’m already too hot from the weather outside. That’s my half-complaint. It’s autumn and I’m not in the mood for autumn food because it still feels like the dead of summer where I’m at. ‘Kay, that’s it. Now onto the food.

Since it’s still too hot outside for autumn food where I’m at, I figured that I could just make something that catered more to the summer weather. Lettuce wraps are right up there so far as I’m concerned. They’re light, they’re refreshing, they’re lower in carbs than tacos. (I don’t really care about that last part, but whatever, they’re still yummy and summery).

Hoisin sauce is like an Asian style ketchup–except in my opinion, it’s much tastier. Hoisin, soy sauce, minced ginger and chili sauce forms the base of the sauce that the pork in this dish is braised in. All together it makes for a sauce that’s salty-sweet, and given a punch of spiciness from the ginger and garlic. Make sure you get lettuce that’s going to hold it’s shape when you place the meat and toppings inside–Boston Bibb or butter works best. I drizzled Sriracha on top of mine to make it extra spicy. It may not be summer anymore, but if you’ve got summer weather where you’re at, maybe you’d like to try this yourself.

****************************************************************

Hoisin Pork Lettuce Wraps

Recipe Adapted from Better Homes & Gardens

Ingredients

  • 4-5 lbs of boneless pork shoulder, cut into chunks
  • Pepper, Onion powder and garlic powder
  • 1 cup low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 cup hoisin sauce
  • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup minced fresh ginger
  • 3/4 cup sweet chili sauce
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon Chinese five spice
  • 2 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 large yellow sweet onion, cut into chunks.
  • Matchstick carrots
  • Sesame seeds
  • Butter or romaine lettuce leaves

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Season the meat all over liberally with the pepper, onion powder and garlic powder.

Heat about 1-2 tablespoons of oil in the bottom of a Dutch oven or heavy bottom pot over high heat. Sear the meat until browned, about 3-5 minutes per side. Remove to a plate.

Add the onion to the pot and stir to coat the onion in the browned bits. Allow to saute until the onions are softened and translucent. Add the garlic and allow to saute for an additional 2-3 minutes, until fragrant.

Add the soy sauce, hoisin, brown sugar, fresh ginger, chili sauce, five spice and chicken broth to the pot. Bring to a boil, the reduce heat to a low simmer. Taste and adjust for seasoning. Add the pork back to the pot and stir to combine.

Cover tightly with lid or alumnum foil. Bake in the oven until the pork is softened and easily pulled with a fork, 1 1/2-2 hours. Serve the pork with the lettuce leaves, shredded carrots and sesame seeds.

Sharing at this week’s Fiesta Friday #245, co-hosted by Liz @ spadesspatulasandspoons.com and Deb @ Pantry Portfolio.

Pickle Brined Chicken Tenders

Alright y’all, listen.

I know what you may be thinking, but before you say anything or just click away because you feel like this is just a bad idea, just stay for a few minutes hear me out.

Yes, I mean you too. Stay.

So, I too was skeptical when I first heard about this. Not gonna lie, I was even a tad bit grossed out. I like pickles on my sandwiches, but the idea of my chicken tasting like a pickle? Not so appetizing.

But fortunately, that’s not what’s going on here at all. Let me be clear: you are not going to take a bite of this and just taste pickle.

I promise, you won’t.

The whole purpose of brining in the first place is to flavor and tenderize the meat so that it stays juicy and doesn’t dry out while frying. Most times people do this by brining their chicken in buttermilk. I’ve brined chicken in both buttermilk and now, pickle juice.

Would you like to try and guess which one that I prefer?

Yep. The pickle juice. Seriously.

Normally when I did my buttermilk brines before, I would flavor the buttermilk with some spices, just to try and get some extra flavor infused into the meat. But this time, I didn’t have to bother; the pickle juice does all the work for me. All I did to prepare the chicken for the brine was throw it in a gallon size Ziploc bag, then pour the pickle juice over it, seal the bag, then put it in the fridge and walk away. That’s literally it. The spices in the pre-made pickle juices worked together to not only keep the meat moist, but they infused incredible flavor into it as well.

Once the chicken is taken out of the brine, it gets tossed into my tried & true flour mix & batter. This is the best fried chicken batter I’ve ever had or made, bar none. The crust is just out of this world. It crunches in your mouth. It’s full of flavor. It stays absolutely PUT. Even when it gets cold. Even after it’s been refrigerated, OVERNIGHT. Believe me, once you’ve made it this way, you will never go back to another fried chicken batter as long as you live.

I’m not worried about sharing this recipe with y’all because I know that once you put aside your doubts and just try this out, I’m going to make pickle brining believers out of all you. The results will speak for themselves. Your meat is going to be so tender and juicy, with just the *faintest* tang from the pickle juice. That tang is offset perfectly by the savory saltiness of the crust. It works– I was honestly surprised by how well it works.

You know how much I was won over by this? Every time we finish off a jar of pickles now, I keep the jar of juice in the back of my fridge, impatiently waiting until we go through enough of them to have enough juice to brine another batch of chicken so I can fry it up again. If that’s not dedication, I don’t know what it is. Sharing at this week’s Fiesta Friday #237, co-hosted this week by Jhuls @ The Not So Creative Cook and Diann @ Of Goats and Greens.

************************************************************************

Pickle Brined Chicken Tenders

Print

Ingredients

  • About 3-4 lbs of chicken tenderloins
  • Up to 3 cups of pickle juice (enough to fully submerge the chicken, but if you don’t have enough then supplement with buttermilk)
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 heaping teaspoon of Lawry’s or other seasoning salt
  • 2 cups cornstarch
  • 1 cup rice flour
  • 1 tablespoon of your favorite mix of dry herbs (like basil, oregano, thyme, rosemary)
  • Plenty of seasoning salt & pepper
  • 1 3/4 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon of onion powder
  • Vegetable, Canola or Peanut oil for frying (4-6 cups)

Directions

Place the chicken inside gallon size resealable plastic bags, or a large shallow dish with a lid. Pour the pickle juice over the chicken, seal and refrigerate overnight.

In a medium size, shallow bowl/baking dish, combine the all purpose flour with the seasoning salt, pepper,  and dried herbs. Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the cornstarch, rice flour, onion powder and water with a large whisk or flour until thoroughly combined (it’ll be thick, like tempura batter. If need be, you can thin it out with a few tablespoons of additional water).

Heat the oil in a large pot or Dutch oven to 350°. Line a baking sheet with wax paper or plastic wrap on the bottom, then place a wire rack on top.

Remove the chicken from the pickle juice and discard it. Dip each piece of chicken in the shallow dish of all purpose flour with a fork to get a light dusting on both sides, then dip it into batter, holding it up to allow some of the excess to drip off. Then, re dip it into the all purpose flour until the wet batter is sufficiently covered. Place the chicken on the wire rack to allow batter to set, about 2-3 minutes.

Working in batches of no more than 3 pieces at a time, fry the chicken in the oil. Turn it occasionally and monitor the temperature of the oil (a instant read thermometer works GREAT for this) as you work until it is golden brown on both sides, about 3-5 minutes per side. (It may look a little pale, but it browns more when you take it out, so don’t worry) When finished remove chicken to another sheet pan lined with paper towels and a wire rack to drain.

Vanilla Wine Braised Beef

I remember a long time ago, way back before I could even cook at all, that I really liked vanilla extract. Whenever I saw my mom take it out, I knew that something delicious was going to get baked. You know how some little kids love the smell of permanent markers? When she wasn’t looking I would sneak into the kitchen, open her spice cabinet and just smell the vanilla extract. I’ve always loved what vanilla can do to sweet treats, and now that I bake a lot myself I absolutely will not do without it.

It wasn’t until a couple of years ago that I first saw savory applications of vanilla in recipes. I was intrigued and admittedly, a little unsure. I tried to envision what a savory vanilla dish would taste like, but couldn’t really get a grasp on it by thinking alone. The obvious concern is that it’s going to make the food taste too sweet, which then makes me nervous about wasting money on ingredients–if you bake with vanilla often, then you know it isn’t too cheap.

But y’know, as with most other things you’re afraid of trying, the best way to get over it is to just… try it out and see what happens. This was my first attempt to put vanilla into a savory dish, and I’m happy to say that it went pretty well.

It starts out with a spice rub that you’re going to let marinade on the meat overnight. It’s also got soy sauce (my go-to ingredient for just about ALL of my marinades by the way), and a splash of orange juice. After you sear the meat the next day, you put together the braising sauce that’s made of wine, tomatoes, and the vanilla extract. Don’t worry if it seems a little…’tomato-y’ at first. Once it gets time for the flavors to develop in the oven, they do balance out.

I think that this is a very, very good recipe to use for those of us who aren’t used to eating vanilla savory-style. It’s an easy braise with easy to find ingredients, and actually very little hands-on time. I paired this beef with the Sweet Potato Challah Buns I made a little while back and they made absolutely DELICIOUS sandwiches. Just saying.

Sharing this at this week’s Fiesta Friday #233.

********************************************

Vanilla Wine Braised Beef

Recipe Adapted from Nielsen Massey

Print

Ingredients

For Spice Rub:

  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground mace
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • Seasoned salt and black pepper
  • Juice of 1 orange
  • Soy Sauce
  • About 4 lbs of chuck roast, London broil, or tri-tip steak cut into large cubes

For Braise:

  • 8 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 large sweet yellow onion, sliced thin
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 2 teaspoons Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 3 cups beef broth
  • 1 (28 fl. oz.) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 (15 fl. oz.) can tomato sauce
  • juice and zest of 1 orange
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • Seasoned Salt and pepper
  • A few dashes of soy sauce

Directions

Combine the dry spices together in a small bowl with a fork. Place the beef cubes into 2 freezer gallon size bags. Sprinkle soy sauce onto the surface of the beef and use your fingers to gently massage it in. Divide the spice mix evenly between the two bags. Seal the bags, then toss around until the meat is evenly coated. Place both bags into a bowl and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Heat a few tablespoons of oil in the bottom of a Dutch oven over high heat. Sear the meat on all sides, 1-2 minutes per side until browned. Keep the seared meat in a bowl covered with foil, as you may need to do this in batches so as not to crowd the pan.

Deglaze the pan with about 1 cup of broth, then add the onions. Saute until the bits are loose and the onions are softened, about 5-7 minutes, then add the garlic. Continue to cook until most of the liquid is cooked off and the garlic is fragrant. Temporarily remove from the heat.

In a small saucepan combine the wine, sugar and the vanilla. Whisk together over medium heat and allow to reduce by half. Remove from heat.

Pour the rest of the broth, the dice tomatoes, tomato sauce, reduced wine, orange zest/juice, cinnamon stick, bay leaves, and the rest of the spices into the Dutch oven with the onions/garlic. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer, allow to cook down for about 10-15 minutes. Taste and adjust for seasoning (But flavors will also further develop while braising).

Place the beef cubes back into the Dutch oven, cover then braise in the oven for 2– 2 1/2 hours until beef is fork tender.

Pulled Jerk Chicken

I cook often, but my actual taste preferences are limited. I like what I like and because of that, I don’t tend to try a lot of new things. There are few things that can kill my mood than a meal that I didn’t like. So I don’t take the risk. However, if someone I trust recommends something new to me, I’ll give it a shot, which is what happened for my birthday back in 2016. My sister took me to a Caribbean spot downtown and I had jerk chicken for the first time. There were greens and plantains on the side. It was delicious.

We try not to eat out too often to save money, but recently I found myself still really wanting some jerk chicken. I did a quick internet search to see what goes into making it and found out it’s really not that complicated. And as chicken itself is one of the cheaper proteins, I decided to give it my best shot. This is what ended up happening and I thought it turned out well enough to share with y’all.

I really believe in letting my meats sit in marinades overnight, even if it’s mainly just a spice rub. It gives the spices plenty of time to permeate the meat and maximizes the amount of flavor you’ll get the next day–and also minimizes the amount of extra seasoning you’ll have to add the next day of cooking. For this spice rub, I used a combination of cinnamon, cumin and allspice, along with soy sauce that I rubbed into the meat to help it stick (it also gives a great ‘rich’ salty flavor).

After the chicken gets seared, you’re gonna put together the sauce–and I really do love this sauce. I did some tweaking from other jerk recipes I’ve seen, swapping out lemon juice for lime, cutting out the vinegar (as I think the lime juice makes it plenty acidic enough) and adding some brown sugar and chicken broth just to round things out. Altogether, along with those Scotch bonnets, it makes a sweet and spicy sauce for the seared chicken to braise in the oven with until it’s fork tender and falling off the bone. This is also another one of those braises that tastes even better the next day as the flavors have even more time to develop and deepen. For a perfect Caribbean meal, make it with these Maple Curry Plantains alongside rice and crusty bread.

Sharing at this week’s Fiesta Friday #225, co-hosted this week by Antonia @ Zoale.com.

***********************************************************

Pulled Jerk Chicken

Recipe Adapted from Chowhound.com

Print

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon ground allspice
  • 4 lbs chicken breasts or thighs
  • 1/2 cup lime juice
  • 1/2 cup dark molasses
  • 1/3 cup orange juice
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce, plus more for spice rub, divided
  • 10 black peppercorns
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 sweet yellow onion, sliced into wedges
  • 5 medium garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 medium scallions, trimmed and thinly sliced
  • 1 1/2 cups cilantro (about 1 bunch), coarsely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 (3-inch) piece fresh ginger, minced
  • 1 Scotch bonnet or habanero pepper, sliced into rounds
  • 2 cups chicken broth

Directions

Combine the cinnamon, cumin and allspice together in a bowl with a fork. Massage a few dashes of soy sauce into the surface of the chicken (not the 1/3 cup, that’s for later), then rub the spice mixture into the meat. Place the meat into sealable gallon size bag, seal it, then toss the meat around in the bag to make sure the seasoning is evenly coated. Refrigerate overnight.

Preheat oven to 350F. Heat a few tablespoons of oil in the bottom of  Dutch oven over high heat. Sear the chicken on both sides about 2-3 minutes per side until browned. Remove from pot once browned and keep covered with foil. Deglaze the pan with about 1 cup of the chicken broth, scraping up the brown bits. Allow to simmer until liquid is mostly cooked off, then place the onions in the pot. Allow to cook until they’re translucent and softened, 5-7 minutes, then add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1-2 minutes more.

Add the lime juice, molasses, orange juice, the 1/3 cup of soy sauce, peppercorns, brown sugar, scallions, cilantro, thyme, ginger, remaining 1 cup of broth and peppers. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and bring to a simmer, allowing to cook for about 5-7 more minutes. Taste and adjust for seasoning.

Add the chicken back to the pot. Cover tightly and place in the oven, bake until meat is fork tender and pulling off the bone, about 1 1/2-2 hours. When the chicken is ready, remove it to a cutting board.  Strain the sauce through a fine-mesh strainer, and pour it back into the pot. Pull the meat off the bones and discard them along with the fatty parts and skin. Place the meat back into the pot and toss in the sauce.

Serve with rice or on crusty sandwich bread.

Roasted Garlic Vinaigrette Chicken Salad

Hi, my name is Jessica and I have a confession to make.

Despite the name of this blog being Cooking is My Sport…I don’t always love to cook. Sometimes it’s the very last thing I want to do. I mean, the LAST. I envision putting on my baggy round the house clothes, pulling out pots/pans and standing in the kitchen for a while cooking–and I’ll just say to myself, “Yeah, nope. It’s not gonna happen today.”

And you know what? That’s okay. When those times arise, (and they will for everyone) there are a few different alternatives I will take to cooking a super ‘hands on’, full effort, time consuming meal:

First, I’ll order takeout–usually a pizza. Do I really need to do much explaining for this one? I mean, sometimes carb-heavy, greasy, sodium overload food is just what your body is craving. Life is short and if I don’t feel like cooking, pizza is a tried and true fail safe.

Second, I’ll eat cereal and milk. It’s quick, it’s not overly filling and so long as you pick cereals that aren’t loaded with sugar, it’s not the unhealthiest option either. (Honey Bunches of Oats and Hney Nut Cheerios is my winning combination in case you were curious).

Third, I’ll just pick up a rotisserie chicken.

Let me just say this right now: rotisserie chicken slander will not be tolerated on this here blog. I stan for rotisserie chicken and all the things that can be done with it. They’re awesome. They’re a pretty inexpensive buy whether you buy them fresh and cook them yourself, or pick a premade one up from your local grocery store deli. If the seasoning is done right by the deli, they usually taste pretty good on their own, but even if their bland on their own, it’s EXTREMELY easy to take the chicken off the carcass and give it a flavorific makeover within minutes.

I don’t like most chicken salad recipes because they’re mayonnaise based; mayonnaise triggers my gag reflex. So, I tend to stay away. However,  a little while ago I started experimenting with different ways to make the dressings for chicken salad, swapping out the mayonnaise entirely for other options, like this recipe where I used a base of Greek yogurt instead). This time around, I decided to go for a spin on chicken salad that was  made with a vinaigrette dressing rather than a creamy one.

I started out this post by saying I don’t always feel like cooking, and this recipe stays true to that. Literally the only thing that gets ‘cooked’ is garlic heads that are roasted in the oven. ‘Why do we roast garlic?’, you may ask. It cuts through the sharp flavor of raw garlic and improves it, giving a sweeter, richer flavor that really can’t be beat. You’ll be thanking me for this little trick and be using it in all kinds of dishes in the future.

Once the garlic is roasted, you really are practically done. From there, you just mix the rest of the dressing ingredients together in a blender, then pour it over the chicken and vegetables that make up your salad. I used roasted red peppers, cucumbers and onions (the usual suspects in my salads). There’s also a generous portion of chopped parsley leaves in there, which give it a zesty, peppery flavor.

I have to say, the dressing is the star here. The roasted garlic gives it a savory and almost caramelized flavor that’s gets balanced out with the remaining ingredients; acidity with the vinegar and honey mustard, and sweetness from the honey and OJ. Even if your rotisserie chicken isn’t seasoned right, this will spruce it right up. It tastes SO fresh and bright. It’s satisfying, but still light enough to where you won’t feel too full afterwards. This may have been a bare minimum effort meal, but we gobbled it up–I’ve already been asked to make it again. It’s really good and I think you ought to give it a shot on a non-cooking night when takeout or cereal isn’t tickling your fancy. Linking this post up to Fiesta Friday #219, co-hosted this week by the lovely Jhuls @ The Not So Creative Cook.

*********************************************************

Roasted Garlic Vinaigrette Chicken Salad

Recipe Adapted from The Kitchn

Print

Ingredients

For Dressing

  • 1 head of garlic
  • 2 tablespoons vinegar (I used malt vinegar, but you can feel free to use red wine, white wine or balsamic, according to your preference)
  • 2 teaspoons honey mustard
  • Juice of 1 freshly squeezed orange
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1/2 cup olive oil

For Salad

  • 1 rotisserie chicken, deboned (It should yield 2 1/2-3 cups of shredded chicken)
  • 1/2 cup baby cucumbers, chopped and sliced in half
  • 1/2 cup roasted red peppers, sliced
  • 1/2 cup yellow sweet onion, finely diced
  • Handful of chopped parsley leaves

Directions

Preheat oven to 350°F. Rub about 1 teaspoon of vegetable or canola oil on top of garlic head. Sprinkle the top with salt & pepper and place in the middle of a piece of aluminum foil. Wrap the foil around the garlic, like a package. Place on a half sheet pan and bake in the oven for about 50-55 minutes.

Remove and allow to cool until warm enough to handle. Take the roasted garlic head and break off individual cloves. Use your fingers to press/squeeze out the pulp into the container of a blender/food processor with the veggies. (It should come out very easily).

Pour the vinegar, honey mustard, orange juice, honey, olive oil and salt and pepper in the blender with the garlic. Process on high until smooth—taste and adjust for seasoning. If it’s still a little thick you can add a few tablespoons of water to thin it out.

Combine the chicken, cucumbers, red peppers, onion and parsley together in a large bowl. Slowly drizzle in about half of the dressing and stir thoroughly to combine. Taste it—if it’s to your satisfaction, you can leave off the rest of the dressing and save it for later, or you can add and stir it into the rest of the salad mixture.

Cover the chicken salad and refrigerate for at least a few hours, but preferably overnight to allow flavors to meld.

Orange Sage Glazed Ham

We don’t eat ham very often, but every time we do I wonder why and how I always seem to forget how much I love it. I don’t understand why ham catches the flack that it does–people either seem to love it or hate and the majority of people I know are inclined to the latter. Crazies.

Debate among yourselves about the whys–we like and eat ham ’round here and in case some of y’all will be too, I thought that Easter weekend would be a good time to share the most recent way that I made it.

I really don’t think that much needs to be done to a ham if it’s pre-smoked. So long as you have a good spice rub and glaze, the oven should be doing most of the work. That’s certainly the case here. It may take some time to cook, but this recipe couldn’t be easier to put together.

Citrus works really well with pork, especially orange.  You’ll be using both the zest and the juice; nothing wasted. For the rub, fresh sage gets mashed together with oil and the zest to form a thick paste that you’re going to schmear all over the ham. Let it do its thing in the oven while you put together the orange glaze that’s spiced with cloves and cinnamon. By the time it finishes cooking it’ll be thick, syrupy and spicy-sweet, which is exactly where you want it to be.

I know it takes a little bit, but your patience in letting the ham bake low and slow will allow the oven to render out the fat across the top. Once it’s cooked through and the glaze gets poured over it, the sugars in the glaze caramelize to form a thick, dark crust; it’s such a beautiful thing. The smells alone are gonna get you. The sweet tartness of the glaze balances out the saltiness of the ham. The spice of the cloves is also a nice flavor to balance out them both.

Also, let’s be honest: half of the reason I love making ham so much is that the leftovers make the BEST sandwiches or protein for salads. Or, if you really wanted to get creative you could use some of your leftovers on this bread pudding I made a few weeks ago.

Happy Easter to all who celebrate, and a Happy Fiesta Friday#217, co-hosted this week by Abbey @ Three Cats and a Girl and Angie@ Fiesta Friday.

************************************************************

Orange Sage Glazed Ham

Recipe Adapted from Tyler Florence

Print

Ingredients

  • 1 8-10 pound bone in, skin on spiral ham
  • Seasoned salt and black pepper
  • 1/4 cup fresh sage leaves
  • 1/4 cup vegetable or olive oil
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, cubed
  • Zest of 2 oranges
  • 2 cups fresh orange juice
  • 2 cups brown sugar, packed
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 teaspoon whole cloves
  • 2 cinnamon sticks

 

Directions

Preheat oven to 300°F.

Place ham in a large roasting pan, fat side up. Using a sharp knife, score the ham with cuts across the skin, about 2-inches apart and 1/2-inch deep. Cut diagonally down the slashes to form a diamond pattern; season the meat generously with the seasoned salt and pepper.

Roughly chop the sage leaves and place in a small bowl with the orange zest. Drizzle in the oil to form a thick paste. Rub the paste all over the ham, making sure you get down into some of the slits. Bake uncovered for about 90 minutes.

Meanwhile, place a saucepan over medium heat. Pour in the orange juice, the butter, brown sugar, water, cloves and cinnamon sticks. Slowly cook down until it form a syrupy glaze—this will take 45-50 minutes.

At the end of the 90 minutes, pour all of the glaze over the ham, cinnamon sticks and all. Continue to bake and baste with the pan juices every 15 minutes for an additional 35-45 minutes. Crank the heat up to 400 to allow a dark sugary crust to form across the top of the ham, about 10 minutes.

Remove from the oven and allow the ham to rest before carving for about 15 minutes.